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More Medicare $$ Needed to Pay Docs for Treating the Chronically Ill, Senators Told

MedPage Today

The fragmentation of care under the Medicare program is also problematic, said hearing witness Amol Navathe, MD, PhD, professor of health policy and medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. “Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions see more than five physicians concurrently,” he said. “My colleague Matt Press [Matthew Press, MD, MSc, medical director of Penn Medicine’s Primary Care Service Line] found that over just 3 months, it takes a PCP [primary care physician] over 50 interactions to actively coordinate care for just one important clinical condition.”

“Addressing fragmentation will require a new way of care, which in turn will require substantial changes to physician payment,” Navathe added. “Simply adding more dollars to the current system won’t be enough. Physician groups need to be able to invest in new capabilities, use technologies like telehealth when safe, efficient, and effective, and staff practices differently.” He advised starting with paying primary care physicians a set monthly fee, in addition to their fee-for-service payments, to compensate them for care coordination and other tasks.