Medicare :: AMA deeply concerned with new Medicare payment rule

Today’s release of the proposed 2008 Medicare physician payment rule serves as yet another reminder of the need for congressional action to stop scheduled payment cuts to physicians.

Next year alone, Medicare will cut payments to physicians by 10 percent. Over nine years the cuts swell to 40 percent, while medical practice costs increase 20 percent. The numbers just don’t add up.

Last year, Congress set aside $1.35 billion that could be used to reduce the scheduled 2008 pay cut. The AMA and 85 other physician and health professional organizations sent a letter strongly urging the Administration to use this money to help Medicare physician payments keep pace with increases in practice costs. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) made a similar recommendation. In today’s rule, CMS has chosen to spend all of the money to provide just 1.5 percent to 2 percent to physicians who report on certain quality measures.

“The AMA is extremely disappointed in this short-sighted decision. Today, Medicare pays doctors the same as it did in 2001. More than 60 percent of doctors say they will be forced to limit the number of new Medicare patients they can treat when the cut goes through. Seniors’ access to health care is in jeopardy.”

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