Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Payment Commission Initiated

The Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) has just launched the National Commission on Physician Payment Reform to assess how physicians are paid and how payment incentives are linked to patient care. The plan is for the Commission in 2013 to issue their recommendations for reforming the physician payment system.

The Commission is chaired by Dr. Steven Schroeder, Former President of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Distinguished Professor of Health and Healthcare at the University of California, San Francisco and Former Senate Majority Leader William Frist M.D., serving as Honorary Chair.

How physicians are paid is a major driver of healthcare costs, along with other factors such as the number of patients accessing services, the increased treatments needed for chronic conditions, continued reliance on high technology interventions, and a system that continues to reward payment for procedures rendered and tests ordered instead of for the quality of overall patient care.

According to Schroeder, “How physicians are paid and what they choose to recommend for services are key drivers in the escalating healthcare costs that we see today. As
Former Senator Frist notes, “We want to continue to provide the best care possible, but the need to constrain costs can no longer be dodged. We are taking away money from nursing homes, schools, and other public services to pay for ever-escalating healthcare expenses.”

The high profile Commission includes a number of physicians, heads of large healthcare systems, business leaders, and health policy and medical ethics leaders that includes Kavita Patel of the Brookings Institution, and a former member of the Obama Administration, Troy Brennan Executive Vice President and CMO of CVS Caremark and CVS Pharmacy, Inc., and Suzanne Delbanco Executive Director of Catalyst for Payment Reform and Founding CEO of the Leapfrog Group.

In addition to assessing pay structures, the Commission will look at efforts to incorporate quality into the current pay system and assess the opportunities and risks of the healthcare payment configuration being implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act, as well as those currently in place. The Commission will also consider incentives and safeguards surrounding physician payments as well as assess forms of physician payment that maximize good clinical outcomes.

The Commission will meet for one year and provide full recommendations in early 2013. The Commission is funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the California Healthcare Foundation, and the Sergei Zlinkoff Fund for Medical Education and Research.

For more information, go to www.PhysicianPaymentCommission.org.