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LECOM student speaks for legislation to fix Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate 

Jimmy Demeo joined AACOM and AOA to support legislation

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) today announced its support of the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act, presented today at a panel discussion hosted by the legislation’s sponsors, Representatives Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) and Joe Heck, DO (R-NV). The representatives introduced bipartisan legislation to permanently repeal the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, which has resulted in underpayment to Medicare physicians that in turn has resulted in fewer physicians to care for patients, including our nation’s seniors. The Members hosted a panel discussion with leaders of the medical and health care policy community, including second-year medical student Jimmy DeMeo from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (Erie), to highlight the direct impact this legislation will have on physicians and the patients they serve.

“First and foremost, students go to medical school because they want to help others in need,” said Jimmy DeMeo. “And increasingly many medical students are reassessing what medicine to practice and whether or not to include primary care due to the continual failure of Congress to permanently fix the SGR.  This problem creates a disincentive to treat those who often need our help most.  With passage of the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act, a major barrier for those who want to practice primary care will be lifted and more medical students will potentially include primary care medicine as a choice.”

The Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act ensures patient access to physicians while promoting efficiency, quality, and value in health care delivery by:

  • Permanently repealing the Sustainable Growth Rate;
  • Stabilizing the current payment system and providing positive payment updates for primary care and specialty physicians;
  • Instituting measures to ensure access to primary care services;
  • Testing and evaluating new payment and delivery models;
  • Identifying best practices and developing a menu of delivery model options;
  • Establishing a transition period for practice transformation;
  • Rewarding providers for high-quality, high-value care;
  • Ensuring long-term stability in the Medicare physician payment system; and
  • Containing the rising growth in health care costs through delivery system reform

“As educators of future osteopathic physicians, we support policies, including the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act, which support the development of an adequately trained workforce that meets the needs of the 21st century,” said Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, President and CEO of AACOM.  “The stability of suitable physician reimbursement, especially in the area of primary care, is a necessity for developing and maintaining a health care system that provides quality and value to our nation’s citizens.”

“For over a decade, this policy has failed taxpayers, Medicare beneficiaries and those on the frontlines of patient care. The framework for this legislation has garnered broad bipartisan support over the past year,” said Representative Schwartz.

“America’s shortage of physicians working in primary care is going to continue to affect our seniors unless we act,” said Dr. Shannon. “We therefore, commend Representatives Schwartz and Heck for their strong leadership in supporting a sustainable workforce that meets the needs of all patients.”

AACOM represents the nation’s 29 colleges of osteopathic medicine at 37 locations in 28 states. Today, more than 21,000 students are enrolled in osteopathic medical schools. One in five U.S. medical students is training to become an osteopathic physician.

AACOM was founded in 1898 to support and assist the nation’s osteopathic medical schools, and to serve as a unifying voice for osteopathic medical education. AACOM’s mission is to promote excellence in osteopathic medical education, in research and in service, and to foster innovation and quality among osteopathic medical colleges to improve the health of the American public.