Support from Both Sides
The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate moved forward with bipartisan legislation to reform the Medicare’s payment system and repeal its Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). The American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) openly welcomed the congressional support and has aimed to partner with legislators in efforts to modernize Medicare. The AAPA recognized the House and Senate’s efforts to remove barriers which prevent patient’s access to care by moving ahead with the proposed policies.
A new payment system replaced the repealed SGR after the bills were passed by the House Committee on the Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees. The new value-based performance program veers away from fee-for-service methods of payments and provides incentives for the use of Medicare and Medicaid Service innovation programs.
Payment Reform Equality for PAs
Physician assistants (PAs) have been specifically included in proposals for Medicare payment reform from all three congressional committees. The inclusion is considered a substantial victory for PAs as they will be treated in the same regards as physicians and advanced practice nurses in regards to payment reform, says AAPA president Lawrence Herman.
Medicare is one of the largest payers in the American health care system and the full integration of PAs into new payment models help showcase their important roles in a team-based environment. The bills proclaimed a new complex care management code in which PAs are labeled as eligible healthcare providers.
Expanding Practice Areas
The Senate Finance Committee placed provisions to allow hospice care for Medicare beneficiaries from PAs who can now provide and manage the service. They also clarified that PAs and nurse practitioners (NPs) alike may directly supervise pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation services in critical access hospitals. The Senate and House will likely consider the legislation later this year as the AAPA aims to retain all of the PA provisions already allotted while this process continues.
Congress also passed a budget agreement which includes a three month override of the spending target determined by the SGR formula. A 24% payment cut that was originally scheduled for January 1st is prevented by the agreement and a 0.5% increase for payments to healthcare professionals applies until April 1st, 2014.
The mid-level practitioner field is vital to the healthcare system, especially as demands continuously grow. The important role that NPs and PAs play in providing care to patients has begun to steamroll in the form of legislative policies in congress. NP PA Recruiters is a full-service, professional healthcare recruitment firm committed to guiding nurse practitioners and physician assistants as they navigate the healthcare job market. Contact us by calling 214-351-3880 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.