AMAIt appears that general care physicians in private practice are experiencing the same concerns over consolidation as hearing healthcare providers in private practice, as illustrated by recent news that the American Medical Association (AMA) released a statement on the Administration’s proposal to help preserve independent medical practices.

According to a July 7, 2016 news announcement, the AMA responded to the Administration’s initial plan to remove hospital payment incentives that have promoted consolidation in the healthcare industry. The new proposal from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which is part of the 2017 proposed hospital outpatient payment rule, aims to better align payment policies for physicians in independent practice with those owned by hospitals. The CMS proposal could help stem the tide of consolidation by large systems and help small practices maintain their independence.

CMS proposes to reduce the incentives for hospitals to purchase physician practices by paying the same Medicare rates after future hospital acquisitions, whether physician services are provided in freestanding independent practices or in off-campus, hospital-owned practices. Exceptions are provided for emergency department services.

“Providing similar payments for similar professional services located outside of a hospital campus, regardless of facility ownership, could lead to a more level economic playing field and help preserve independent practice,” said AMA President Andrew W. Gurman, MD.

The new policy is viewed as more equitable for patients who, CMS notes, often pay more for the same service provided in an off-campus department of a hospital.

The AMA stated that small, independent physician practices are a vital component of our nation’s healthcare system, providing many valuable services to patients and communities. Maintaining their viability is key to preserving physician leadership in patient-centered delivery system innovation.

Source: The American Medical Association (AMA)