June 16, 2013

The Unintended Consequences of Regulation

10 Regulatory Irritants Driving Physicians Out of Independent Medical Practices

With nearly 125,000 pages worth of Medicare regulations governing the U.S. healthcare system, physicians are confronted with overwhelming regulatory burdens that continue to erode their practice of medicine. A new white paper commissioned by The Physicians Foundation titled, “The Unintended Consequences of Regulation: How Federal Initiatives are Driving Physicians Out of Independent Medical Practice," explains the corrosive effects of these regulations on medical practices.

Below are some of the irritants highlighted in the report, including:

  • ‘Meaningless work’ – There are federal reporting requirements currently in place, which add to the physician’s work, without direct benefit to the patient. For instance, a bewildering requirement mandates that ophthalmologists must weigh patients. For what purpose?
  • Data is replacing information - Under ICD-10 (International Classification of Disease), there are now more than 68,000 regulatory codes compared to 13,000 codes previously under ICD-9. ICD-11 will include additional changes, which add costs to physician practices and offer no clear benefits to patients.
  • Sustainable Growth Rate – Unreliable and problematic reimbursement policies are forcing physicians to leave independent practices for large hospital and health systems, thereby increasing consolidation and reducing private practice viability and patient choice.
  • Comparative effectiveness research – Innumerable recommendations from groups such as IPAB (Independent Payment Advisory Board) and PCORI (Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute) can be ineffective and confusing. Since 2008, more than 350 similar groups have created several thousand medical guidelines, which are inconsistent and ambiguous.

Please click here to access the full white paper.