Public Release:  ACP, others oppose paying for 'fiscal cliff' by halting Medicaid primary care fee increases

Letter sent to House and Senate leaders by more than 100 state and national societies representing large majority of US physicians

American College of Physicians

(Washington) The American College of Physicians (ACP) and more than 100 other national medical specialty societies and state physician member societies today sent a letter to House and Senate leaders expressing their "strong opposition to proposals that would eliminate the Medicaid primary care payment increase that was recently finalized in a final rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and scheduled to be implemented on January 1."

The rule, which was authorized by the Affordable Care Act, increases Medicaid payments for primary care services in 2013-14 to no less than the applicable Medicare rates, fully paid for by the federal government.The signers pointed out that many physicians do not participate in the Medicaid program due to poor payment rates that, historically, are well below the actual costs of providing care.

"The Medicaid payment increase is an important policy that attempts to better align payment rates with cost of care for primary care physicians, thus increasing access to primary care physicians for millions of Medicaid patients," the signers explained. Improved Medicaid payments, they noted, will help increase access "for persons enrolled in both the existing Medicaid program and persons who may become newly eligible for Medicaid in states that accept the federal dollars to expand Medicaid."

Although a principal goal of this Medicaid policy is to improve access to primary care, the policy also increases payments to many subspecialists in internal medicine and pediatrics, with the purpose of increasing participation and access to their services.

Finally, the groups noted, "We urge you to oppose elimination of the Medicaid primary care payment increase."

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The American College of Physicians (www.acponline.org) is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 133,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection, and treatment of illness in adults. Follow ACP on Twitter (www.twitter.com/acpinternists) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/acpinternists).

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