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News of the Day ... In Perspective

02/21/2006

AMA signs pact with Congress to write “physician performance measures”

In a pact signed by AMA chairman Duane Cady, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Representatives Bill Thomas (R-CA) and Nathan Deal (R-GA), the AMA has agreed to come up with performance measures covering the majority of Medicare spending relating to physician services, by the end of 2007.

In 2007, the agreement says, doctors will “voluntarily” report to the federal government on at least three to five “quality measures” per physician. The doctors “should receive” some additional payment to compensate for the cost of data collection.

In a letter to Dr. Cady, the presidents of seven medical organizations said they had not been consulted or informed. “The AMA acknowledged the existence of this agreement only after we uncovered it.”

An additional 10 national doctors’ groups complained to Congress: “The American Medical Association cannot be the sole representative fro the groups who are paramount to the development and implementation of quality measures.”

Wrote Dr. Stuart L. Weinstein of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, “Performance measures need to be developed by specialty societies, then tested and validated, to confirm that they really affect patient care in a positive way.”

The AARP supports the measures and the idea of “moving to pay-for-performance on an aggressive timetable” (Robert Pear, New York Times 2/21/06).

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