Get Rrrrready to Rumble!

From the Second Annual Joint Surgical Advocacy Conference, Washington, DC

It’s increasingly obvious that a line in the sand is being drawn, and we’re not talking about one in the desert.  Primary care physicians and specialists appear to be headed for a smackdown, aided and abetted by a Congress that’s going to have to figure out how to fund health care reform and also avoid the statutory 21% cut in Medicare physician fees coming later this year.  

From Flickr Creative Commons user EdBob

From Flickr Creative Commons user EdBob

Chest-beating was on vivid display at the Second Annual Joint Surgical Advocacy Conference earlier this week.  Eighteen specialty groups — from neurosurgeons to ophthalmologists to urologists to plastic surgeons to thoracic surgeons — banded together to hear rousing speeches from congressional allies and then to hop on buses to take their message directly to Capitol Hill.  Last year, there were only a handful of sponsors at the first annual conference. 

They’ve got reason to be worried.  From the Medicare Payment Assessment Commission to many Democratic congressional leaders, there has been a growing drumbeat of support for a redistribution of federal and private monies to prop up primary care, which is relatively underpaid — relative to specialty medicine, that is.

The specialists made it clear that they don’t want to open up their wallets to subsidize primary care. 

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) stoked the specialists’ fire by asserting that no foreigner comes to America in search of primary care — rather, they’re looking for top-notch specialty services, he said.  He promised to protect specialists’ interests in his role as head of the Republican task force on health reform.

During question and answer sessions, more than one audience member chimed in that the primary care support should not come out of specialists’ hides.

A day later, specialists and primary care docs were going head to head during a House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing.  The fun has just begun. 

— Alicia Ault
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Filed under Neurology and Neurological Surgery, Ophthalmology, Plastic Surgery, Practice Trends, Primary care, Surgery, Urology

2 responses to “Get Rrrrready to Rumble!

  1. dnapoli1

    says Dr. Alan Kliger, pres of Renal Physicians’ Association, on medical home model:

    “The medical home model is less clear about how such a partnership between specialists such as nephrologists and PCPs will be structured. As patients develop more advanced CKD, their care will switch toward more and more participation by the nephrologist. To accommodate this, the idea of a ‘medical neighbor’ has been proposed. We are happy to discuss this model, and participate in its development.

    What is most important is to keep the plan patient-centered.”

  2. Pingback: Behind the Velvet Rope « EGMN: Notes from the Road

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