ACR leaders met with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Donald Berwick, MD, November 15, 2010, to discuss key issues affecting rheumatology, including quality measurements, the elimination of consultation codes, and accountable care organizations (ACOs).
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ACR President David Borenstein, MD, ACR Government Affairs Committee Chair Tim Laing, MD, and ACR Treasurer Audrey Uknis, MD, all reported that the meeting was very positive and that Dr. Berwick was engaged in the issues and open to discussion.
“He was willing to say we had helped his understanding,” Dr. Borenstein says. He was pleased and somewhat surprised to hear Dr. Berwick say the ACR had informed him about things he didn’t know. “You don’t hear that very often in Washington, D.C.,” Dr. Borenstein says.
“He was interested in what we had to say,” Dr. Uknis adds. “He was paying attention to the important points we made about the differences in the practice of rheumatology and our chronically ill patients in general, the special needs of our patients and of rheumatology practitioners.”
ACR Participates in Healthcare Meeting
On December 17, 2010, Drs. Borenstein and Laing attended a special meeting with President Obama’s healthcare advisor, Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD, and Dr. Berwick that included representatives from prominent healthcare organizations and medical societies. During the first part of the meeting, the attendees discussed quality, safety, and efforts to prevent hospital readmissions.
“I pointed out that we try to keep people out of the hospital [in the first place] so they don’t need to be readmitted,” Dr. Borenstein says.
Dr. Laing noted that one statistic shared with attendees was that, by 2015, 9% of all hospital payments would be tied directly to quality and safety.
The second part of the meeting covered ACOs and how they would be organized. “We pointed out that we needed a different kind of organization or entity for specialists such as rheumatologists,” Dr. Borenstein says. The response was that ACOs can come in different forms and don’t necessarily have to be hospital centered. “Physicians need to think inventively on how an organization might be developed so that outpatient specialists are involved,” Dr. Borenstein says.
Dr. Laing added that, “the administration here is clearly interested in engaging the medical profession and I encourage all our members and all physicians to reach out and comment to them. My impression is that they don’t really know what the landscape is going to look like once these ACOs start to form.”