WASHINGTON, July 11 (UPI) -- A new proposal may help encourage doctors to engage in preventive medicine with certain Medicare patients at higher risk for diabetes, cognitive impairments and other conditions by increasing the payments they are eligible for.
The American College of Physicians announced its support for the proposed rule the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently filed in the Federal Register.
The rule is designed to build on a strategy of emphasizing primary care by making changes that will lead to about $900 million in increased funding for services, encouraging physicians to spend more time focused on individual patients outside of office visits, reducing the expenses of primary care medicine by improving reporting and information technology practices, and increasing the use of telemedicine.
"The road to a better health care system means correcting this imbalance. We should reinvest in what we value -- primary care -- as a practice, as a profession, and as an abundant resource for patients," CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt and CMS Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway wrote in a blog post, adding that "in addition to keeping people healthy, health care costs are lower when people have a primary care provider and team of doctors and clinicians overseeing and coordinating their care."
The $900 million of new funding, which is be focused on primary care, care coordination and mental health care, is expected to be added in 2017 for physicians and practitioners. Over time, however, the agency expects increased spending on preventive health care to top $5 billion as doctors work to coordinate care between providers and enhance patient-centered care.
Among the ways these funds are expected to increase care are by integrating mental and behavioral health into a team-based primary care system, asking primary care physicians to work with behavioral health care managers and psychiatric consultants.
Better cognitive impairment care assessment and planning, as well as methods of helping those with mobility issues, are expected to increase access to care Medicare beneficiaries need. A diabetes prevention program is hoped to expand support services for patients at greater risk of developing the condition.
"As a practicing primary care internist myself, I am greatly encouraged that CMS is proposing substantial improvements to help me and my colleagues provide coordinated, patient-centered, high value and team-based care to our patients," Dr. Nitin Damle, president of the American College of Physicians, said in a press release. "We look forward to providing CMS with detailed comments to support these improvements while recommending other changes to strengthen primary care."