Rationale for Establishing a Mechanism to Increase Reimbursement to Hypertension Specialists


Address for correspondence: William J. Elliott, MD, PhD, Professor of Preventive Medicine, Internal Medicine and Pharmacology, Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, 200 University Parkway, Yakima, WA 98901

E-mail: wj.elliott@yahoo.com


Hypertension is an important public health problem both in the United States and worldwide, contributing to many forms of cardiovascular and renal diseases. Although great strides have been made in the proportion of the US population that achieves recommended blood pressure targets, many Americans still have undertreated and uncontrolled blood pressure that increases the risk of expensive strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, and dialysis. Because hypertension is a common but heterogeneous and sometimes complex condition, the American Society of Hypertension (ASH) has, since 1999, designated physicians as “ASH Hypertension Specialists.” Such Hypertension Specialists (as defined by ASH's Specialist Program) are fully licensed physicians with a primary board certification who are competent in all aspects of the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, as evidenced by passing a specific examination on these topics offered by ASH's Specialist Program. These physicians have a proven track record of controlling blood pressure in “resistant hypertensive” patients, the general population whom they serve, and educating other physicians to help them achieve higher blood pressure control rates among their patient populations. This report sets out a rationale for increased reimbursement for care of hypertensive patients by ASH-Designated Hypertension Specialists.