To calculate physicians’ fees under Medicare—which in turn influence private payers’ decisions on how they will pay doctors—the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) relies on the recommendations of a controversial advisory panel known as the RUC (the Relative Value Update Committee), which mainly represents a broad group of national physicians’ organizations. In recent years physicians in primary care have expressed concerns that this committee has too little representation from their ranks and is partly responsible for increasing the pay gap between primary care providers and specialists. Other research has shown that increases in physician service prices brought about by committee recommendations contribute to increased costs of services used by Medicare enrollees.
Transparency and authenticity, constant and clear communication, and a drive toward value underpin the future health system — for those health leaders who can commit to these pillars of transformational change.
Barbara Starfield, a seminal figure in the health services research community who made landmark contributions in primary care and other areas, died suddenly on Friday, June 10, of an apparent heart attack.
Health Affairs extends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Dr. Starfield. To help honor Dr. Starfield’s career, Health Affairs is providing free access until June 28 to the full texts of the articles she has authored and coauthored in the journal, discussed below.
Starfield was a Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Health Policy and Management and Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University Schools of Public Health and Medicine. She was also Director of the Johns Hopkins University Primary Care Policy Center. Starfield, a member of the Institute of Medicine, was the author of two landmark books regarding primary care: Primary Care: Concept, Evaluation, and Policy and Primary Care: Balancing Health Needs, Services, and Technology. She was the recipient of numerous awards and honors.
Over at the Health Affairs Blog, David C. Kibbe and I have a piece that details how the Obama Administration’s Health IT team “unfroze” and turned around an entrenched Health IT market, and is making it, by virtually any measure, a highly successful one.
This was no small feat, and it took the coordinated effort of many, many people. With David’s counsel and encouragement, I was very proud to play a small part in testifying to an HHS panel in July 2009 on the apparent financial conflicts that were inherent in the relationship between HIMSS and CCHIT. That day of testimony facilitated extremely contentious exchanges, but was, in part, behind the decision to revoke CCHIT’s monopoly on certification, opening the door for new, more modern approaches in Health IT.
There were terrific contributions by many others who worked collaboratively and in good faith to craft the rules that would allow a better environment to the nation’s health IT to be nurtured and evolve. Particular mention should go to The Markle Foundation’s effort, led by Carol Diamond, MD, which brought many different constituencies together and shaped a consensus roadmap forward.
But, no question, the real heavy lifting and very strategic maneuvering was carried out by Dr. Blumenthal’s team along with Aneesh Chopra at the White House and Todd Park at HHS. Kudos to them. They have done the nation a great service.
Please check out the article at the HA Blog, where we go into much more detail.