Promising movement on physician payment reform

Yesterday, physicians and House legislators took a significant step forward on the path toward paying for quality in health care as they convened on Capitol Hill to discuss reforming Medicare’s physician payment system. Texas Representative and House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R) called for the hearing to examine options for repealing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and reforming Medicare reimbursements to reward quality and value.

Pat Courneya, M.D., medical director for HealthPartners in Minneapolis, Minn., was one of the physicians asked to testify before the subcommittee. Dr. Courneya spoke about HealthPartners and its “shift from volume to value” and received a number of engaging questions by members of the subcommittee.

Dr. Courneya’s emphasized his firm belief that the elements of payment reform in Minnesota are replicable, scalable and can contribute to a model for the rest of the country, including Medicare. He suggested that because much of the pilot work is completed and tools are established, the implementation of these steps could happen much faster than they have in his state.

“I understand the wariness and skepticism that some physicians have about value-based payment because I once shared it. I have come to understand, however, that value-based payment systems – if built thoughtfully and properly – can be not only workable but desirable for physicians and an accelerant of improved health, better experiences and improved affordability for patients.”

In addition to Dr. Courneya, testimony was given by David Hoyt, M.D., executive director, American College of Surgeons; Kim Allan Williams, M.D., past president, American Society of Nuclear Cardiology; Charles Cutler, M.D., chair, Board of Regents, American College of Physicians; and Frank G. Opelka, M.D., vice-chair, Consensus Standards Approval Committee, National Quality Forum.

A video of the full hearing is available through the House Committee on Ways and Means Health Subcommittee website:  Dr. Courneya’s testimony is at 43:08.

Photos courtesy of Architect of the Capitol and the Committee on Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.

Wendi Bootes