Thank you for your email and expressed concerns regarding the future of all osteopathic physicians. Each of the issues you raised are under the purview of the AOA’s Bureau on Federal Health Programs and are discussed regularly at meetings. The AOA works closely to influence Congress and regulatory agencies on all issues affecting the profession and the practice of Medicine. Their primary jurisdiction is over those Federal programs including Medicare and Medicaid. However, there are certainly issues impacting physicians outside of those programs including those within the private payer community.
Annually, the AOA communicates Medicare participation options to our members. This provides each member with options, especially for those choosing to operate in a cash based practice. The decisions made by Congress and regulators do not prevent that option as physicians are free to practice medicine in that manner if viable for their practice. Additionally, the AOA is a supporter of the Medicare Private Contracting legislation led by Rep. Tom Price, MD allowing for physicians to contract with their patients outside of the Medicare context. We are working toward its enactment into law.
The AOA as a top priority does indeed work to reform the current physician payment system tied to the sustainable growth rate formula as it directly influences decisions made by private payers. We believe this too is important as it provides an option for those physicians who choose to not operate on a cash only basis. Ultimately, we work to protect all physicians by ensuring each of the options I have mentioned are secure.
The AOA’s decision to begin Osteopathic Continuous Certification (OCC) was the profession’s answer to the Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program as required under current law. OCC is tailored to osteopathic physicians while still meeting the requirement under statute to ensure osteopathic physicians are abiding by current law. OCC and MOC come at a time where there is greater interest from the public about the education and training of all health providers. We believe osteopathic physicians are uniquely positioned to address the needs of the health care system as it evolves, and OCC will only serve to assist in highlighting this.
The AOA provides an array of services to all members regardless of their practice type including advocacy, practice management support, opportunities for continuing medical education, and research. Ultimately government impact on medicine is a reality for the nation’s health care system and the physician community. While we could bury our head in the sand as a profession and attempt to ignore that fact, it would not be prudent nor beneficial to our physicians and the patients you serve.
Please contact us at anytime if there is a particular question or concern we can address.
Director | Department of Government Relations
American Osteopathic Association