Health system in Massachusetts pays doctors to enlarge patient panel

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 19, 2012

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Internists, family physicians and other primary care doctors affiliated with Partners HealthCare in Massachusetts may get a pay hike for opening up practices to more patients.

Partners has begun tying 10% of the salaries of physicians to the size of their patient panel and the complexity of the illnesses treated.

Partners is one of 32 organizations participating in a pioneer accountable care organization program run by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Partners also is entering into risk-based arrangements with commercial insurers.

Access to primary care is viewed as crucial for ACOs to succeed. But getting to see a primary care doctor in this system has been hard. Many practices are closed to new patients.

"As we move away from a fee-for-service environment and emphasize the importance of primary care, we have to rethink the best way to deliver health care," said Rich Copp, Partners' vice president of communication. The system is hiring nurse practitioners and physician assistants to help with expansion.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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