The Top 5 Federal Issues That Will Affect Physicians in 2014

via aAMA Viewpoints post by AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD.

The new year is only just beginning, but it’s safe to say it will be another eventful one. On the schedule are weighty issues that could have a significant impact on physicians and patients in 2014 and years to come.

1. Repeal of Medicare’s failed SGR formula. Congress will continue its work on repeal legislation following the winter recess. In addition to eliminating the tremendous instability that comes with the SGR formula, the bills under consideration offer other significant improvements over current law. Read about the five things physicians need to know in my last AMA Viewpoints post.

2. Full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, beginning Jan. 1. While aspects of this roll-out have been rocky, we must not lose sight of the ultimate goal of health care reform: Millions of previously uninsured Americans will gain access to care, and millions more no longer will be at risk of losing their coverage when they need it most. This is a chief goal for us as physicians—helping patients become healthy and stay healthy.

3. Implementation of the ICD-10 code set, scheduled for Oct. 1. Under the new code set, physicians will have to contend with about 68,000 outpatient diagnostic codes—a five-fold increase over the 13,000 ICD-9 codes we currently use. The AMA has been working for years to prevent the roll-out of ICD-10. Two bills were introduced in 2013 to this end, and we continue to stress to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that the new code set will place an immense burden on physicians.

4. Meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR), to which physicians must attest by Sept. 30. Physicians who don’t attest to fulfilling the meaningful use requirements by the deadline will be subject to Medicare penalties in 2015. While we have been successful in delaying Stage 3 for a year, we continue to urge CMS to make Stage 2 requirements more reasonable, address usability issues and break down barriers preventing communication among EHR systems rather than placing the responsibility on physicians to achieve the impractical.

5. Physician data will be published by Sept. 30 under the Sunshine Act. Financial interactions with drug and medical device manufacturers will be publicly reported in an online database for the first time later this year. Physicians will have an opportunity to review and challenge data before it is posted. In addition to pressing for modifications in how the law is carried out, we offer resources to help you prepare.

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