Friday, December 11, 2009

New Healthcare Amendment Will Preserve Access to Care for Millions of Patients

/PRNewswire/ -- Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) today proposed a new amendment to the current healthcare reform bill which will preserve access to care for millions of Medicare patients seen by a medical specialist.

Senate Amendment 3163 would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to delay for one year implementation of its decision to eliminate consultation codes for specialists. A survey of its members recently conducted by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) indicated that if the consultation codes were eliminated four out of five endocrinologists would be forced to drastically reduce or eliminate the number of Medicare patients seen in their practices.

The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) fully endorses the Specter Amendment. AACE has opposed the CMS ruling since it was originally announced. In a letter sent August 26, 2009, AACE cautioned CMS that the result of the ruling "will be a significant reduction in the quality of care received by older Americans when they need it the most." The CMS rule, which goes into effect on January 1, 2010, would no longer allow endocrinologists and other specialists to bill for consultations provided for patients referred to them by primary care physicians.

"The Specter amendment will enable Medicare patients, the major segment of our population that is most vulnerable to serious illness, to continue to have access to specialists," AACE President and Chief of Endocrinology at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Dr. Jeffrey R. Garber said. "It will also give CMS and Congress a chance to critically re-examine this flawed proposal."

In addition to AACE, the amendment is being endorsed by: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), American Academy of Neurology (AAN), American Medical Group Association (AMGA), American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), American College of Cardiology (ACC), American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), American College of Rheumatology (ACR), American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), American Medical Association (AMA), American Psychiatric Association (APA), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), American Urological Association (AUA), Coalition of State Rheumatology Organizations (CSRO), Heart Rhythm Society (HRS), Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (JCAAI), North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (NANOS), Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) and The Endocrine Society (TES).

AACE is encouraging all medical specialists and their patients to write their Members of Congress asking them to support the Specter Amendment and to sign an online petition to reverse the elimination of these codes at

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