Today, CMS released 2012 Medicare payment data on virtually all physicians to the public. As recently as January CMS indicated that patient requests under the Freedom of Information Act would be reviewed and released on a case-by-case basis. This massive release is without precedent. The release was done without the opportunity to review the data for accuracy. MSNJ is disappointed that CMS did not allow time for this review which is conventional for other CMS programs that report data. We are also disappointed that the raw data has been released without any context that would inform the public’s evaluation of the data.
MSNJ is in favor of fee and payment transparency. We urge patients to become more familiar with the particular costs that may be included in the reported payments as well as the costs incurred by physicians to provide quality services. We urge patients not to jump to conclusions about total payments without giving consideration to the type and quantity of services provided. We believe that many patients will be surprised to see how little physicians are reimbursed for many of the services that they provide. Patients with specific questions or concerns about the payment data are encouraged to speak directly with their physician.
Read nine reasons that the raw data released by CMS may be misleading.
You or a family member has just gotten a worrisome medical diagnosis and you need help. We all know the feeling that may accompany confusing medical news – the anxiety, the worry. You need information, guidance and, most importantly, you need understanding. In difficult times, and routinely on a daily basis, the physician is the source of knowledge and comfort for patients, families and communities. Doctors dedicate themselves to caring for patients 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week, 365 days-a-year. On March 30, as we celebrate National Doctor’s Day, let us acknowledge the achievements, sacrifice and service embodied by physicians.
Entrance into the medical profession is a privilege and an honor. The rigor and thoroughness of the education and training required for medical doctors is like no other profession. Years of medical school, an internship, a residency and possibly fellowship training are just the beginning of a lifelong commitment to learning and quality patient care. The trust between patient and physician is a time-honored bond that, through all technological advances, still remains the foundation on which our healthcare system is based. While healthcare is now provided in a multitude of settings – from hospitals to clinics to outpatient facilities and now computer diagnostics – let us never forget that it is a physician, or a team of professionals led by a physician, who is actually caring for each patient.
As an obstetrician-gynecologist in practice since 1987, I have had the privilege of delivering thousands of babies and caring for many women and families in Bergen County. I have also had the pleasure of working collaboratively with physician colleagues and many allied health professionals. We are all on the same mission – to provide the best health care to our patients each and every day. Sometimes this means deciphering a complicated diagnosis, while other times it means going to bat for a patient with an insurance company.
Whatever the situation, I know that physicians throughout New Jersey strive every day to provide what their patients need. Whether it is caring for a woman in labor in the middle of the night, treating a medical emergency or even responding to an accident or disaster, physicians always answer the call and rarely seek acknowledgement for their efforts. Doctors do their job every day simply because that is what they were trained to do and what they feel compelled to do – nothing less than fulfilling their promise to their patients, which is simply to care for them.
This year, in recognition of National Doctor’s Day, I am suggesting something we can all do to honor the physicians of New Jersey. This week, pick up the phone and schedule your annual checkup. Follow through with all your doctor’s instructions. Take your medication, exercise more and eat wisely and make good choices. Help your doctor help you to be your healthiest and, if you get the chance, simply say, “thanks, Doc, for all you do every day”.
Ruth Schulze, M.D.
Medical Society of New Jersey