AAFP seeks to defend hospital-employed family physicians

The American Academy of Family Physicians recently wrote a letter to CMS aiming to defend the rights of family physicians employed by hospitals.

In the May 4 letter to Andy Slavitt, CMS acting administrator, Reid Blackwelder, MD, AAFP board chair, argued hospital-employed physicians have the right to "due process" before being fired from the organization's medical staff, according to AAFP.

"We believe physicians deserve fair hearings when threatened by termination from a hospital and that fear of retribution may limit or prevent physicians from fully advocating for their patients' best interests," Dr. Blackwelder wrote. He added that "physicians with due process rights are more likely to protest fraudulent practices that threaten the integrity of the Medicare and Medicaid programs."

The AAFP is asking CMS to revise the "conditions of participation" form that Medicare-participating hospitals sign. The AAFP stands by the belief that hospitals and physician staffing companies should be prohibited from including language that facilitates physician dismissal without a fair hearing in physician employment contracts.

Instead, CMS should encourage policies that require hospitals to give physicians fair hearings and appellate reviews before they can be terminated or have their medical staff privileges restricted. Dr. Blackwelder stressed it is critical CMS ensures these due process rights cannot be waived by third-party contracts, according to the report.

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