Repealing the sustainable growth rate formula was an enormous victory last year, and the AAFP has worked to determine physician readiness for new payment models that will replace it. The Academy is also going to great lengths to ensure the CMS understands what family physicians need from a new reimbursement system. Other major practice management issues that prompted AAFP action last year included the 2016 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, ICD-10, CPT codes, electronic health records and meaningful use requirements, and direct primary care.
CMS has posted online answers to frequently asked questions from physicians about billing for new CPT codes for transitional care management services. The AAFP also has a frequently-asked-questions document and has created a 30-day TCM worksheet to help physicians track information in patient care summaries.
Family physicians practicing in rural health centers or federally qualified health centers can get prompt Medicare payments for transitional care management services but they need to follow special CMS instructions issued as a result of a computer glitch. A claims processing error occurred with the new CPT codes 99495 and 99496, so alternate billing instructions are in effect until the problems are fixed.
Three new medical residency programs are to begin this July in California's San Joaquin Valley, including two for family physicians, as a way to increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in the central part of the state. The San Joaquin Valley has one of the lowest ratios of primary care physicians to residents in the state.
An FDA letter to physicians asks them to take advantage of training, funded by drug manufacturers, on the appropriate use of extended-release/long-acting opioids. AAFP's manager of CME standards and outcomes Kathy Marian said the Academy is using grant money to develop CME programs that comply with goals set by the FDA and should have those programs available this summer.