We have a lot left to do getting the word out about Hospital Medicine

Rob Bessler writes…

I had the opportunity to meet with Senator Maria Cantwell (D) for Washington State. Senator Cantwell is on the senate finance committee and has had a strong voice in the Senate’s formation of their Healthcare bill.  The purpose of my meeting was to inform her about the role of hospitalists, our organizations focus in her state and express our support for meaningful reform that lowers cost and improves quality. I specifically offered up our help as the bills go through both the House and Senate as a resource.  I had a specific ask on page 220 of the Senate finance bill that stated physicians would not be able to be paid for work they do in the Medicare program until they are credentialed with Medicare. It used to be that you had to submit an application within 6 months of seeing Medicare patients. It then became within 30 days on October first. The new version has major unintended consequences. I explained that in many states a new graduate from residency can not get a state license until they produce a residence certificate after graduation. They can’t submit their Medicare application until they get the state license. They could then not get credentialed for 90-180 days with Medicare. This could essential make employers eat the cost of the physicians salary for 6 months or prevent new graduates saddled with 150,000 in debt not be able to work for 6 months after their training ends. Clearly this was not their goal as it was centered on quality issues, but none the less she agreed to bring it forward as a potential amendment as things move forward. We talked briefly about payment reform and our support for bundling of payment/paying for quality and about the need for tort reform. She gave me little hope that Congress would do anything on the liability situation. She also did admit the bill assuming the physician payment cut does not stay in the bill, does little to curb cost.

What I was most surprised by was that she was unaware of the term hospitalist. This is one of the most influential senators in the United States on healthcare reform.  SHM and each of its members has a major responsibility to continue to educate and promote our vision to be at the fulcrum of healthcare improvement in this country.  In the months ahead we will continue to reach out and educate our senators and House members on the role of hospitalists.  I have committed to working with our group leaders and SHM to continue this effort in the exciting months ahead. Please join us by contacting your Congressional members today

1 Comment

  1. Jairy Hunter, MD, MBA, FHM on December 28, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Unfortunately, most of Washington is fairly clueless on the specifics of the Healthcare Economy…it feels like they are more and more reactionary, and subject to lobbyists and their handlers to implement grand ideas into practice, without really having the background or research to see through the problems.

    And tort reform? Forget it. The Trial Lawyers’ lobby is too powerful, and there are way too many attorneys on Capital Hill.

    Thanks for attempting to make an impact, hopefully the Senator heard your cry but somehow I’m afraid one voice of reason is going to be drowned out by the President, the one-sided Congress, and the Senate in an effort to push something though. I had a chance to meet Lindsey Graham from my home state a while back and had about 10 seconds to give an elevator speech–he listened for a minute with seeming interest, but I don’t know what impact it had. His minion following behind was quick to slap a business card in my hand though, and I did follow it up with a letter. Maybe it’s time for another–although the horse is probably out of the barn now, and I Lindsey probably has little power to effect any meaningful change in the bill anyway.

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