AAFP President John Meigs, M.D., said the final rule implementing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act "addresses many of the concerns family physicians have expressed about the complexity of the program, the pace of implementation, new administrative burdens and the usability of technology." Meigs said the rule, released Friday, appears to reflect guidance provided by the Academy because it provides provisions that help "smooth the way" for family physicians to participate in alternative payment models and the Merit-based Incentive Payment System.
AAFP President Wanda Filer, M.D., M.B.A., criticized the CMS final rule on provider overpayments in Medicare, which calls for a six-year look-back period. Filer said language in the rule that medical professionals have a "clear duty" to proactively look for overpayments is disturbing because it is the job of CMS to ensure payments are accurate. The AAFP has lobbied for and continues to advocate a three-year look-back provision.
News from CMS that the electronic health records' meaningful use program will be replaced with something better was later clarified by HHS Acting Assistant Secretary for Health Karen DeSalvo, M.D., and CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt, who cautioned that physicians still will have to attest to MU criteria. Steven Waldren, M.D., director of the AAFP's Alliance for eHealth Innovation, said MU may be ending in name only as its requirements are rolled into the merit-based incentive payment system, and clinicians using the alternative payment model will have to comply with its requirements, which could be similar to those for MU.
Family physicians see the potential of electronic health records to improve patient care, but implementation can be expensive and burdensome, AAFP President Robert Wergin, M.D., told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said that although EHRs were aimed at improving care and coordination and reducing costs, "evidence suggests these goals haven't been reached."
The AAFP 2015 Family Physician of the Year is Oscar Lovelace, M.D., of Prosperity, S.C., who emphasizes personalized patient care and lends his expertise to local hospices, medical education and political causes. He is a strong advocate of smoking-cessation programs and participates in the AAFP's Tar Wars tobacco-free education program.