12 Reasons Why 2017 Could Be a Better Year for You!

Leigh Page

Disclosures

January 18, 2017

In This Article

Reasons for Optimism

Physicians may find a new and exciting year in 2017. Although it's early to know for sure what will happen, the incoming Trump administration is likely to reduce some regulatory burdens on doctors, and Congress might consider new laws to help physicians.

So, without further ado, here are 12 reasons why 2017 could be a better year for you and your colleagues.

1. CMS' Powers May Be Scaled Back

Rep Tom Price, MD (R, Georgia), president-elect Donald J. Trump's nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), wants to limit regulations placed on physicians by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Because HHS oversees CMS, Dr Price would have the power to move forward, assuming that the Senate confirms his nomination.

Scott Corin, MD, an ophthalmologist in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, says that although he disagrees with Dr Price on social issues, he's in favor of cutting back regulations for doctors. "The amount of bureaucracy in CMS has gotten out of hand," Dr Corin says.

The HHS administrator can't overturn laws passed by Congress, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), and he can't undo rulemaking, such as the recent MACRA final rules. However, he can use the power of his office to restrict CMS' powers in many small but significant ways, according to Tom Miller, a resident fellow with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank in Washington, DC.

"He might modify MACRA at the margins," Miller says. "He could carve out some exceptions or issue a series of guidances, or he could simply enforce things less aggressively."

One of Dr Price's first targets may be CMS's Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), which has been creating mandatory demonstration projects, limited to certain parts of the country, to test out new payment methods. In April, CMMI launched its first mandatory demonstration project, involving orthopedic joint replacements. Dr Price has criticized[1] the project for not working closely enough with orthopedic surgeons, who represent his own specialty.

It could be hard for Dr Price to stop an ongoing project, but it would be easier to block planned CMMI projects that haven't started yet, according to Joe Antos, a resident scholar at AEI. In July 2017, CMS plans to start similar projects for acute myocardial infarction, coronary artery bypass grafts, and surgical hip/femur fracture treatment exclusive of lower-extremity joint replacement. Antos says that Dr Price might decide to cancel those launches.

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