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AMA to the Detroit News: Medicare Pay Board Unnecessary

May 16, 2012 (published)

Detroit News
Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Linda Burghardt's May 4 column, "New Medicare board could hurt Michigan's seniors," highlights the detrimental effect the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) would have on patients' access to care.

It's important to note that the AMA supports the elimination of the IPAB to protect access to health care for the seniors and military families who rely on Medicare and the TRICARE military health program. The IPAB would be a small, unaccountable board with the power to make sweeping decisions in the Medicare program, including instituting automatic across-the-board spending cuts.

The Medicare program is already grappling with a broken physician payment formula that schedules drastic cuts and threatens access to care for patients.

At a time when Congress is struggling to eliminate this existing problem, it is illogical to add another entity that would threaten patients' access to care even more.

The AMA is dedicated to stabilizing Medicare, but the IPAB is not the solution. As physicians, we are focusing on new ways to improve care coordination that will ensure the best quality and value for patients, physicians and taxpayers. These advancements will only succeed if physicians are able to make the investments needed to participate in them, and that is not possible under the ongoing threat of looming Medicare cuts.

Peter W. Carmel, MD
President, American Medical Association