Disappointments are to the soul what the thunder storm is to the air
German Poet Friedrich von Schiller speaks, with seeming understanding, to the impact of a cutting disappointment, such the one felt by cardiology practices whose reimbursements will be cut by an average of 27 percent under the new CMS’ physician fee final rule for 2010. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and other associations worked vehemently to prohibit these reductions, and the CMS responded with a phased-in approach over a four-year period to alleviate some of the burdens created by this rule. 

However, ACC CEO Jack Lewin told Cardiovascular Business News that the phased-in method will do little to reduce the blow to the practice of outpatient cardiology, and predicted that this decision will lead to the shuttering of many cardiology practices. He explained that the real danger in turning cardiologists into hospitalists is the reduced access to care in rural or suburban areas.

He suggested that the 36 percent cut to SPECT, along with the 10 percent to echocardiography, among others, will not allow practices to sustain revenues to keep them viable, adding that CMS doesn’t use the proper methodology to evaluate services that use sophisticated technologies.

However, former CMS Administrator Thomas A. Scully told Cardiovascular Business News that the agency is currently under tremendous pressure to redirect a finite amount of funds to primary care services and preventive care. While he acknowledged that some of CMS’ evaluative methods were flawed, Scully said that reductions will be enacted to all specialties.

Lewin also noted that ACC’s members are redirecting their attention away from the healthcare reform debate, which continues to rage on in Congress, and towards this rule, which the college is still attempting to overturn.

To further employ Schiller’s analogy, thunder, like disappointment, is fleeting if action is taken to overcome any downfalls.

On these topics, or any others, please feel free to contact me.

Justine Cadet