House bill aims to keep doctors in Medicare quality groups

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 18, 2013

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Rep. Tom Price, MD (R, Ga.), has support from organized medicine for again sponsoring legislation that seeks to maintain local physician involvement in Medicare quality improvement organizations, or QIOs.

The nonprofit organizations, usually staffed by doctors and other health care professionals to review medical care, underwent restructuring as a part of a trade reform bill several years ago.

Dr. Price said the revisions “will do harm to the QIO program and ultimately threaten the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries, other patients, families and physicians. Our legislation is critical to restoring and maintaining local input into improving health care quality. It will empower patients and their doctors to make the best decisions.”

Rather than give the federal government the opportunity to regionalize or nationalize QIOs, the bill would restore a requirement for state-based QIO contracts and emphasize local control of the QIO process.

In a March 4 letter, James L. Madara, MD, executive vice president and CEO of the American Medical Association, wrote that the legislation’s focus on a state-based approach “better ensures that physicians’ needs and pursuit of higher-quality care for their patients are met.” The AMA also supports the bill’s requirement for local physician involvement in the medical peer-review process.

The legislation was referred to the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees in late February. The bipartisan bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Kind (D, Wis.) and previously had been introduced in the 112th Congress.

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