Medical societies fight 'overwhelming' regulations

April 4, 2012

Dozens of physician groups petitioned CMS to change or delay multiple rapidly approaching regulatory deadlines and penalties. Read their list of demands.

More than 100 physician and medical organizations are petitioning the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to re-evaluate deadlines for its costly programs and penalties, according to a letter sent to the agency.

The American Medical Association (AMA), the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, and the American College of Osteopathic Internists were among the state and national medical societies to sign the letter expressing concern about an onslaught of overlapping regulations that affect physicians.

Programs with overlapping timelines include the value-based modifier, penalties under the e-prescribing program, the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), and electronic health record incentive program, along with the transition to ICD-10.

Without needed changes from CMS, physicians will be transitioning to the ICD-10 coding system, spending significant time and resources implementing electronic health record (EHR) systems into their practices, working to successfully participate in the Medicare e-prescribing program, meeting EHR meaningful use standards, and participating in the PQRS-all within a short amount of time.

The organizations’ demands:

  • Discontinue plans to assign penalties on activity from the prior year. For example, the 2012 e-prescribing penalty is based on 2011 activity.
  • Synchronize the incentive and penalty programs so that physicians who successfully participate in one program are protected from penalties associated with the other programs.
  • Establish exemption categories to protect doctors facing hardships from penalties.
  • Ensure that physicians can easily determine successful participation or completion of any requirement.

Doctors who treat Medicare patients also face a potential 30% cut to their payments as of January 1, 2013.

Facing all of these deadlines at once is overwhelming to physicians, whose top priority is patients,” said AMA President-elect Jeremy Lazarus, MD, in a statement. “We have asked CMS to develop solutions for implementing these regulations in a way that reduces the burden on physicians and allows them to keep their focus where it should be-caring for patients.”

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