Letters: Congress Must Stop Medicare Cuts

TMA, the American Medical Association, and more than 100 state and specialty medical societies are urging Congress to nullify the 2-percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians called for under the Budget Control Act's sequestration provision and the 27-percent cut coming due to the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.  

In letters to congressional leaders, TMA and other groups said the combination of a sequestration cut and looming SGR payment cut "would not only impede improvements to our health care system, it could lead to serious access to care issues for Medicare patients as well as employment reductions in medical practices. Sequestration also will result in across-the-board cuts to a wide range of essential programs to ensure high quality and accessible patient care, and we believe that Congress should not abdicate its responsibility to deliberate and make policy decisions on what is important and needs to be funded." 

They added that the cuts "could not occur at a worse time. Medicare physician payments have been nearly frozen for a decade, while the cost of caring for patients has increased by more than 20 percent. Congress still has not revealed a clear plan for addressing the 27-percent cut in 2013 called for by the Medicare SGR formula. While these cuts alone will be devastating to physician practices and patient access to care, physicians are also facing present and future financial penalties if they do not successfully participate in multiple Medicare programs, including the e-prescribing program, the electronic health record meaningful use program, and the Physician Quality Reporting System, as well as the value-based modifier."  

The letters conclude by saying that Congress is responsible for ensuring that Medicare has sufficient funding to sustain adequate payment for medical services physicians provide to senior citizens and people with disabilities. "The status quo is unsustainable, and will do considerable harm to the Medicare program as well as the broader health care delivery system. We understand that our nation faces significant fiscal challenges; however, these cuts will undermine efforts to achieve broader, long-term reforms to the Medicare program." 

AMA, the American Hospital Association, and the American Nurses Association released a new report that found that as many as 766,000 health care and related jobs could be lost by 2021 as a result of the 2-percent sequester of Medicare spending mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011. 


Action, Sept. 17, 2012


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