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AMA to USA Today: Focus on Medicare Pay Cuts

Jan. 23, 2012 (published)

USA Today
Letter to the Editor

Reforming our health care system to help cover America's uninsured is no easy task, but the studies cited in a recent Forum piece are unscientific and don't shed any light on the subject. The American Medical Association recognizes that physicians' attitudes on health system reform are diverse, and we are leading the charge to address flaws and eliminate problematic parts of the legislation as it is implemented to help patients and physicians thrive.

We agree that more physicians will be needed to care for the millions who will now have health insurance, but disagree that health reform prescribes lower physician payments. The biggest threat in that arena right now is the failed Medicare physician payment formula that was created by Congress long before the debate over health reform. Unless Congress acts soon, physicians who treat Medicare and Tricare patients will face an across-the-board cut of 27% on March 1. An overwhelming majority of Americans—94%—believe this impending cut is a serious problem for seniors who rely on Medicare. The AMA will continue to work to eliminate the broken formula that threatens access to health care for seniors and military families.

Peter W. Carmel, MD
President, American Medical Association