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AMA Statement on Physician Cuts Considered by MedPAC

For immediate release:
Sept. 19, 2011

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

“The American Medical Association (AMA) strongly opposes the plan under consideration by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) for offsetting the cost of repealing the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. Repealing the SGR this year is a step that Congress must take, but doing so with these drastic cuts would be disastrous for Medicare patients’ access to care and would derail delivery innovations that are key to improving coordination and lowering health care costs. 

“The cuts in this framework are inconsistent with MedPAC’s previous recommendations to stop cuts to physicians because they threaten access to care for patients and would have severe consequences for the Medicare system.  

“Medicare payment updates have not kept up with the cost of running a medical practice, leaving a 20 percent gap between reimbursement rates and practice expenses according to Medicare’s own conservative estimates. Many physicians may also face upcoming payment penalties related to electronic prescribing, health information technology and quality reporting programs. The proposal MedPAC is now considering poses a very real risk to compromise physicians' ability to retain staff, care for Medicare patients and make the investments needed to modernize their practices and participate in new models of care delivery like accountable care organizations.

“More than 40 percent of physicians in the U.S. are now over 55 and almost 21 percent are over 65 years of age. The cuts contained in the plan MedPAC is considering could trigger a wave of physician retirements, threatening access to care for all patients – just as many previously uninsured Americans obtain health coverage.

“The AMA strongly urges MedPAC to withdraw this misguided scheme that would cut and freeze physician payments and compromise access to care for patients. Repeal of the SGR should help move Medicare forward - not create severe instability and hinder needed improvements.”

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Contact:

Heather Lasher Todd
AMA Media Relations
202-789-7430
Heather.Lasher.Todd@ama-assn.org

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