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AMA: Deficit Committee Failure Leaves 27 Percent Medicare Cut Looming on Jan. 1

For immediate release:
Nov. 21, 2011

Statement attributable to:
Peter W. Carmel, MD
President, American Medical Association

"The failure of the deficit committee forces our nation to continue on an unsustainable path that puts current and future generations of Americans at risk for harsh consequences. Congress set up processes and procedures that could have charted a course to put our nation's fiscal house in order. The stalemate in the deficit committee will trigger robotic, across-the-board spending cuts, which will not address critical structural problems in the federal budget.

"The deficit committee had a unique opportunity to stabilize the Medicare program for America's seniors now and for generations to come. Once again, Congress failed to stop the annual charade of scheduled Medicare physician payment cuts and short-term patches, which spends more taxpayer money to perpetuate a policy everyone agrees is fatally flawed. A decade of uncertainty and repeated threats of steep cuts jeopardizes access to care for seniors and military families who rely on the Medicare and TRICARE programs. TRICARE rates are tied to Medicare rates, so a 27 percent cut to Medicare means a 27 percent cut to TRICARE.

"The AMA is deeply concerned that continued instability in the Medicare program, including the looming 27 percent cut scheduled for January 1, will force many physicians to limit the number of Medicare and TRICARE patients they can care for in their practices. Congress has ignored the reality that short-term patches have grown the problem immensely. The cost of repealing the formula has grown 525 percent in the past five years and will double again in the next five years.

"The vast majority of Americans, 94 percent, say that the looming Medicare physician payment cut is a serious problem. Congress must act within the next few weeks to replace the Medicare physician payment formula and implement a fiscally responsible foundation for Medicare."

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Contact:

Brenda Craine
Director, AMA Media Relations
(202) 789-7447
brenda.craine@ama-assn.org

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