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AMA to New York Times: Medicare Doctor Payments

Feb. 29, 2012 (published)

The New York Times
Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Re "A Real 'Doc Fix' " (editorial, Feb. 22):

We agree that Congress must pass a permanent solution to the broken physician payment problem that plagues Medicare with frequently scheduled cuts, but eliminating this problem by putting in place other physician cuts rather than true payment reforms will only continue to threaten patients' access to care.

Medicare physician payments have already been nearly frozen for a decade, while the cost of caring for patients has increased by more than 20 percent. A 32 percent cut is now scheduled on Jan. 1, 2013.

More cuts are not the answer. They would compromise physicians' ability to participate in new models of care delivery, which the editorial correctly noted could help coordinate patient care and reduce costs in the Medicare system.

We agree that moving Medicare forward by focusing on coordinated care is the best solution. It is time for Congress to permanently eliminate the flawed payment formula, end the scheduled Medicare cuts, and put in place a payment system that reflects the cost and practice of 21st-century medical care and provides stability for physicians and patients.

Jeremy Lazarus, MD
President-elect, American Medical Association