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AMA to The Daily Advertiser: Failure to find 'doc fix' already stings

Dec. 5, 2011 (published)

The Daily Advertiser
Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

As the recent editorial "Find a solution for doc fix" (Dec. 1) points out, the looming 27 percent cut to Medicare physician payments scheduled to occur Jan. 1 will have devastating repercussions for physicians and their patients in Medicare and TRICARE military health care program. What is not noted is the adverse effect it has already had on taxpayers' wallets.

On 12 separate occasions Congress has put in place temporary patches to prevent the cuts triggered by this faulty formula. This failed policy of short-term patches spends more taxpayer money to preserve a system everyone agrees is broken. Congress' short term patches have already increased the overall cost to taxpayers for permanent repeal of the broken Medicare physician payment formula from $48 billion in 2005 to nearly $300 billion this year.

Congress' first responsibility must be to stop this massive cut and protect access to care for seniors and military families. Going forward, Congress must also work to find a permanent solution to this ongoing problem and repeal the Medicare physician payment formula once and for all.

Peter W. Carmel, MD
President, American Medical Association