A stable and reliable Medicare program requires creative solutions for long-term reform. Jeopardizing the physician foundation of Medicare with drastic payment cuts is not the answer that will bring stability to the program (Sensitive trigger, April 30, p. 6).
Physicians want to care for our nations elderly, but too many will be forced to limit care to seniors next year when faced with a 10% cut in Medicare payments. Access to care will only become more limited as Medicare payments are sliced 41% during the next eight years, while practice costs increase about 20% over the same time. Physicians cannot be expected to absorb the widening gap between payments and cost of care while continuing to accept new Medicare patients. Its clear this inequity threatens the viability of Medicare for millions of baby boomers who are about to enter the program.
As we work to improve the quality of healthcare through the use of new health information technology, physicians are expected to make large capital investments in these systems. Yet physicians will find it nearly impossible to invest in health IT in the face of steep Medicare payment cuts and rising practice costs.
The American Medical Association urges Congress to stop the looming Medicare cuts immediately. Without dedicated physicians, the Medicare program cannot continue to provide the care our nations seniors deserve.
William Plested IIIPresident American Medical Association Chicago