ABIM Foundation, National Health Care Leaders, Announce Support of Principles for Physician Payment Reform, Grounded in Medical Professionalism

January 14, 2010 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
January 14, 2009 - A diverse group of national health care and consumer organizations today issued Principles for Physician Payment Reform, calling on Congress to use these principles to guide their deliberations on the issue when they address it in 2010. Physician payment reform was not a significant component of the health care reform legislation passed by the House and Senate in December 2009. Members of Congress committed to addressing this issue in early 2010.

The principles, created out of a series of conversations between physician leaders, patient advocates and representatives from nursing, health plans and business during the August 2009 ABIM Foundation Forum, highlight the fact that physician payment, as currently constructed, contributes to unsustainable growth in health care spending. The groups have joined together in support of these principles with the understanding that physician payment can drive efficiency, reduction of unnecessary care, accountability and lead to higher quality health care for all Americans.

"Clearly, we are entangled in a physician payment system that is antithetical to the core values of medicine," says Christine K. Cassel, MD, President and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the ABIM Foundation. "If this system is not reformed, the result will be the further fraying of an already tattered social contract between the physician and patient. Policy makers must begin to address this fundamental issue."

More than 30 organizations have joined the ABIM Foundation in endorsing the principles including AARP, the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Physicians, Bridges to Excellence, Consumers Union, the National Business Group on Health, and the Society of General Internal Medicine, among others. The Foundation is calling on other organizations interested in improving health care quality to sign on to the principles. View a full list of organizations endorsing the principles.

"It is critical for our nation's health care leaders to move forward to rapidly and effectively design, implement and sustain these models," says Joseph W. Stubbs, MD, FACP, President of the American College of Physicians, which has endorsed the principles. "We must act now to infuse these guiding principles into innovative programs that can create real incentives for better health care for all."

The principles can guide not only future policy deliberations about payment changes, but also can serve as a blueprint as the HHS Secretary and CMS work to implement models advanced in the current reform bills, including patient-centered medical homes, accountable care organizations, and bundled payments, among other innovations.

Helen Darling, President of the National Business Group on Health, which also has endorsed the principles, agrees, and notes that "It is essential to begin aligning and harmonizing public and private payment methods and models. These principles offer a blueprint for payers, policy makers and health care leaders to once and for all create sustainable programs that can lead to meaningful payment reform."

The mission of the ABIM Foundation is to advance medical professionalism to improve the health care system. We achieve this by collaborating with physicians and physician leaders, medical trainees, health care delivery systems, payers, policy makers, consumer organizations, and patients to foster a shared understanding of professionalism and how they can adopt the tenets of professionalism in practice. In addition, the Foundation provides counsel to the American Board of Internal Medicine in their efforts to improve the quality of health care. To learn more about the ABIM Foundation, visit www.abimfoundation.org.