In order to provide quality cardiovascular care and continue to make headway in improving outcomes, it is necessary to develop middle-ground policy positions related to the future design of more sustainable Medicare and Medicaid programs.
As technologies advance, it is critical that our processes for evaluating them also evolve. This is no small task, but it is necessary to ensure that U.S. patients have access to medical care based on the most current science.
U.S. healthcare is undergoing massive changes. While its often easy to focus on the negative side-effects of this transformation, healthcare professionals should not lose sight of its many opportunities. One of the biggest opportunities, particularly for cardiology, is a movement towards team-based care, which involves using non-physician practitioners and clinical staff to participate in the decision-making, coordination of care and shared responsibility for quality.
Given the ever-increasing advances in science and research related to genetics, its not surprising that discussions about personalized medicine among care providers and government officials are heating up.
Based on surveys distributed throughout 2009, the ACC estimates that nearly half of private practice members have sold their practices to become employees of hospital systems, with many more heading in that direction. The cuts in payment for cardiovascular services included in the final 2010 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) have forced the hands of many practices struggling to remain viable.
The New Year provides an opportunity to turn a corner and not look back. At the American College of Cardiology (ACC), our initial focus is to apply all means necessary to mitigate the impacts of the 2010 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule rule, which resulted in drastic payment cuts for cardiology. The rule is bad policy. It will not only hurt access to care, particularly for disadvantaged populations, but will dramatically increase Medicare costs by shifting services to the hospital setting. The college is working all anglesregulatory, legislative and legalto reverse the most egregious elements of the rule.
Beyond covering the uninsured, redesign of the healthcare delivery system is essential. Patients and physicians have not been served by the cost and volume controls that have occurred over the past decade and the current escalation of healthcare costs is not sustainable.
The American College of Cardiology held its successful 58th Annual Scientific Session in Orlando, Fla., in March. The event featured exciting science, quality improvement programming and critical networking opportunities for the entire cardiovascular community. In addition, the meeting provided an opportunity for the college to re-affirm its commitment to leading healthcare reform.
Health system reform is imminent. If you travel anywhere in the United States, you will find physician and patient satisfaction levels decreasing as a result of inconsistent quality, lack of coordinated care and medical liability concerns. Combine these factors with 47 million uninsured Americans, and you have a system primed for reform.