Dig deep on health care issues that matter with 10 top Q&As

In a year that started with the promise of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and is ending with concerns about the rise of yet another SARS-CoV-2 variant that could exacerbate the pandemic of the unvaccinated, physicians’ mettle has been tested like never before.

Many of the doctors who are fighting COVID-19, promoting vaccination, advancing health equity, working to end the drug-overdose epidemic, and battling burnout have taken time from their busy schedules this year to explore how they are moving medicine forward in exclusive, in-depth Q&A-format interviews with the AMA.

Read my latest article for the AMA to explore 10 of these Q&A interviews.

How health systems rise to meet challenges in pandemic’s 2nd year

Well into its second year, the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to test U.S. health systems seeking to rebound from 2020, ensure vaccine uptake, battle physician burnout and innovate to improve care delivery.

Throughout this challenging year, the AMA has recognized the outstanding efforts of AMA Health System Program members. The program provides enterprise solutions to equip health system leadership, physicians and care teams with resources to help drive the future of medicine.

My latest for the AMA. The whole shebang.

COVID-19 vaccine requirements: Why U.S. doctors are fighting for them

With federal health officials warning that the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant is already spreading quickly in the U.S. and is likely to peak with a huge caseload in January, American doctors are redoubling their support for COVID-19 vaccination—and vaccine requirements—as the best way to save lives and keep patients out of the hospital.

The scientific experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that booster doses can effectively fight the Omicron variant, which now has joined the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant in a kind of tag team of viral attack.

That is just one huge reason why the AMA is continuing its legal efforts in support of policies that require widespread COVID-19 vaccination.

My latest for the AMA. The whole shebang.

Congress moves to tackle Medicare physician pay cliff

There appears to be a pathway emerging in Congress to address a combined 9.75% in Medicare physician payment cuts, which amount to a physician payment cliff and were set to take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

The Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act (S. 610) was considered by the House of Representatives. While the underlying bill is the Senate-passed Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act, the House passed its version of that bill separately under suspension of the rules.

Highlights of the physician-payment provisions include:

  • A delay in resuming the 2% Medicare sequester for three months (Jan. 1–March 31, 2022), followed by a reduction to 1% for three months (April 1–June 30, 2022).
  • A one-year increase in the Medicare physician payment schedule of 3%, which is 0.75% less than the conversion factor boost provided for 2021.
  • A one-year delay in the cuts to the clinical laboratory payment schedule.
  • A one-year delay in the Medicare radiation oncology demonstration.
  • Erasing the 4% Medicare pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) cut, and preventing any additional PAYGO cuts through 2022.

My latest for the AMA. The whole shebang.

Doctor participation in ACOs, medical homes grows amid pandemic

Physician participation in accountable care organizations (ACO) and medical homes continues to grow steadily amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the results of an AMA survey of about 3,500 physicians.

Nearly one-third of doctors worked in practices participating in medical homes in 2020, up from 23.7% in 2014. On the ACO front, 42.7% of physicians were in practices that participated in a commercial ACO in 2020, up from 31.7% in 2016. Meanwhile, 29.5% of physicians were in practices took part in a Medicaid ACO, up from 20.9% in 2016.

And the share of physicians in practices involved in Medicare ACOs has risen from 28.6% in 2014 to 36.7% in 2020, though it dipped from a high of 38.2% in 2018.

The findings are included in the AMA Policy Research Perspectives report, “Payment and Delivery in 2020: Fee-for-Service Revenue Remains Stable While Participation Shifts in Accountable Care Organizations During the Pandemic.”

My latest for the AMA. The whole shebang.