Medical Specialists Petition Congress to Preserve Access to Care for Millions of Medicare Patients

Jan 12, 2010, 10:13 ET from American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Jan. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) sent a petition to Congress today signed by 1,325 AACE members, non-AACE member physicians, allied health professionals and patients opposing a new Medicare policy which would eliminate consultation codes for specialists. Overturning this policy would preserve access to care for millions of Medicare patients seen by a medical specialist.  

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) new policy, which went into effect on January 1, 2010, no longer allows endocrinologists and other cognitive specialists to bill for consultations provided for patients referred to them by primary care physicians.  

In December, AACE surveyed its members.  The results of that survey indicated that if consultation codes are eliminated, four out of five endocrinologists would be forced to drastically reduce or eliminate the number of Medicare patients seen in their practices.

AACE is also extremely concerned about the hasty implementation of this new policy.  Guidance on how to comply with the new policy was only made available to health care professionals and Medicare contractors less than two weeks before the January 1st implementation date. The new policy will severely restrict patient access to specialty care, and the expedited implementation of this policy will cause major disruptions in the health care system in the weeks ahead as new Medicare claims are processed.

As a result, AACE is urging Members of Congress to adopt Senate amendment 3163, introduced by Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA), as part of the final health care reform agreement or as part of any legislative vehicle that is expected to imminently pass Congress.  The Specter amendment would delay the new CMS policy for one year to allow more time to adequately prepare for this policy change and fully consider its impact.

"The result of CMS' decision will be a significant reduction in the quality of care received by older Americans," AACE President and Chief of Endocrinology at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Dr. Jeffrey R. Garber said. "AACE applauds the continued efforts of Senator Specter to delay this flawed (CMS) policy."

In addition to AACE, the Specter amendment has been endorsed by numerous societies representing medical specialists.  AACE is encouraging all medical specialists and their patients to write their Members of Congress asking them to support the Specter Amendment.

About the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE)

AACE is a professional medical organization with more than 6,000 members in the United States and 91 other countries. Founded in 1991, AACE is dedicated to the optimal care of patients with endocrine problems. AACE initiatives inform the public about endocrine disorders. AACE also conducts continuing education programs for clinical endocrinologists, physicians whose advanced, specialized training enables them to be experts in the care of endocrine disease, such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, growth hormone deficiency, osteoporosis, cholesterol disorders, hypertension and obesity.  For more information about AACE, visit our Web site at www.aace.com, become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/theaace or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/theaace.

SOURCE American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists



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