Physicians petition to end federal direct contracting

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A petition with over 1,500 physician signatures is calling on HHS to end the CMS Medicare direct contracting program. 

The petition, which is being delivered Nov. 30 to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, claims that the program often transfers beneficiaries into third-party direct-contracting entities that incentivize limiting senior care, according to a news release from advocacy organization Physicians for a National Health Program.

Supporters of the petition argue that monthly capitation payments, which cover some patient expenses, allow entities to reap revenue based on what they don't pay in medical expenses. This sets a precedent to cut corners to care, Physicians for a National Health Program stated. 

"Medicare Advantage — the first wave of Medicare privatization — showed us that inserting a profit-seeking middleman into public coverage does not save money for taxpayers, but rather costs more money while also taking away care choices from seniors," Ana Malinow, MD, a physician from San Francisco who will travel to Washington on Nov. 30 to deliver the petition, said in the news release. 

"If left unchecked, the direct contracting program will hand traditional Medicare off to Wall Street investors without input from seniors, doctors, or even members of Congress. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has the power to stop this Trump-era program in its tracks, and must do so now," Dr. Malinow stated.

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