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AMA to New York Times: Medicare Payment Formula

Feb. 10, 2012 (published)

New York Times
Letter to the Editor

Re “House and Senate at Impasse on Medicare Payments” (news article, Feb. 7):
It is ludicrous that Congress is again deadlocked over how to ensure health care access to the elderly and the military when a perfect solution is available. After 13 short-term patches to the Medicare payment problem in the last decade, we’re back to the same scenario.

Congress needs to take the fiscally responsible action: Eliminate the Medicare physician payment formula to ensure access to care for Medicare and Tricare (military) patients and stop increasing the cost for taxpayers. It makes no sense to continue to pay more to preserve a policy that everyone agrees is flawed. The price to end this problem will never be less than it is right now.

There is a unique opportunity to use projected spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect access to care for the military and the elderly without adding to the nation’s deficit. Congress should grab this chance to do the right thing for our military, the elderly and taxpayers.

Peter W. Carmel, MD
President, American Medical Association