“The idea that I'm offering for your consideration is that what we do in our March report is focus on reiterating our principles, and not vote any new recommendations or even re-vote on past recommendations,” Chairman Glenn Hackbarth said during a meeting Friday. “The reason is that there is momentum on this issue and the last thing I want to do is disrupt the progress now underway.”
His comments came a week after leaders of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees released a proposal to permanently repeal the SGR formula and reform the fee-for-service system with a value-based model. Hackbarth said that strategies being considered on the Hill are consistent with MedPAC's previous recommendations.
Other MedPAC members agreed.
“It's just time to move on this issue,” said Dr. Rita Redberg, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
With the SGR plausibly on its way to becoming a thing of the past, MedPAC staffers unveiled an early draft of a policy aimed at increasing the ranks of primary-care physicians.
“New physicians must see primary care as an attractive specialty choice,” Kevin Hayes, a principal policy analyst for the commission, told members.
The policy would give primary-care physicians two payments: a fee for a specific service they perform, such as a physical, and a monthly or quarterly fee that would reimburse practices for non-face-to-face services such as phone calls and treatment strategy meetings.
MedPAC members responded positively to the idea and would like to see it developed further. “The primary-care workforce is a very fragile workforce so I support this,” said Dr. Alice Coombs, a critical-care specialist and an anesthesiologist at Milton Hospital and South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, Mass.
Follow Virgil Dickson on Twitter: @MHvdickson