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AMA to the Daily Journal: Medicare concerns about sequestration

March 4, 2013 (published)

The Daily Journal
Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Contrary to the article "No ruckus about Medicare cuts in pending sequester" published in the Feb. 28 edition of the Daily Journal, physicians are extremely concerned about cuts to Medicare from sequestration. The cuts come at an already difficult time for physicians who care for Medicare patients and will cause real pain. Since 2001, Medicare payments for physician services have only increased by four percent, while the actual cost of caring for patients has increased by more than 20 percent. The new cuts widen this already enormous gap.

As the cuts go into effect, there are plenty of reasons for patients, physicians and all Americans to be concerned. A report released jointly by groups representing physicians, nurses and hospitals found up to 766,000 health care and related jobs could be lost by 2021 as a result of the 2 percent cut in Medicare from sequestration.

Physicians also face the continuing threat of drastic cuts from the broken Medicare physician payment formula. Adding another cut takes us in the wrong direction: It threatens access to care for patients and prevents progress in moving Medicare toward new models of delivering care that will help ensure quality and reduce costs now and in the future.

Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD
President, American Medical Association