Association votes to explore new Medicare payment formula as temporary 'doc fix' hangs in balance

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 Skilled nursing facility readmissions should be an ACO quality measure, government proposes
Skilled nursing facility readmissions should be an ACO quality measure, government proposes

The American Medical Association voted earlier this week to explore new potential payment systems to replace the current Medicare reimbursement formula, according to an AMA statement.

During this week's AMA House of Delegates meeting, trustees agreed to search for a new payment system that would "allow patients and physicians to freely contract for payments that differ from the Medicare schedule, while allowing patients to use their Medicare benefits."

The action comes in the wake of a "meltdown" caused by the looming 21.2% cut in Medicare physician pay, the association said. The Senate, as of press time, had yet to vote on a bill that would delay the cut, which was scheduled to take effect June 1. Meanwhile, a recent Medicare Payment Advisory Commission report found that the potential pay cut under the current schedule would be more than 26% in 2011.

"Low Medicare payments, continued payment uncertainty, and a steep 21 percent payment cut have put access and choice in jeopardy," AMA trustee Dr. David O. Barbe, said. "A new patient-centered category of Medicare payment will allow seniors to use their Medicare benefit fully for the health care they need."