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AMA to Chicago Tribune: Medicare costs

Feb. 4, 2012 (published)

Chicago Tribune
Letter to the Editor

We couldn't agree more that it's time to end the Medicare physician payment formula that threatens access to health care for America's seniors and military ("Deep-six the doc fix; A gimmicky Medicare cut that won't happen," Editorial, Jan. 28). Only in Washington would people spend billions of dollars to preserve a policy that everyone agrees is broken. There is bipartisan agreement that it must be eliminated, but instead Congress has put in place a series of 13 fiscally irresponsible, short-term patches that have only grown the size of the problem for patients, physicians and taxpayers. The price to end it will never be less than it is right now.

The fiscally responsible course is to put an end to this foolishness. Unfortunately, Congress has now dug a $290 billion hole that needs to be filled.

We see one viable choice: Use projected money that won't be spent on Iraq and Afghanistan to ensure access to health care for military family and seniors. Otherwise, Congress will patch the problem for the 14th time and allow that $290 billion price tag to grow even larger for America's taxpayers.

The projected war funds will be used for something. Let's use them to pay a debt we already owe. It's the common-sense course.

Peter W. Carmel, MD
President, American Medical Association