01 Nov Physicians face painful decision on Medicare
WashingtonPost.com | November 1 – While most people are focused on the midterm elections Tuesday, the American Medical Association is gearing up for the lame-duck congressional session scheduled to start Nov. 15. Unless Congress intervenes, payments to doctors for treating Medicare patients will be cut by 23 percent on Dec. 1 and another 6.5 percent on Jan. 1.
Cecil B. Wilson, an internist from Winter Park, Fla., who became AMA president in June, is pressing for a 13-month patch that would prevent the Medicare physician cuts. In April, the Congressional Budget Office said that blocking the cuts until January 2012 would cost about $15 billion. A long-term formula fix, through 2020, would cost about $276 billion, it said.
The AMA argues that a 13-month reprieve from the reductions would give it time to work with Congress to overhaul the Medicare payment formula. In recent years, the payment formula has called for cuts, but each time lawmakers have stepped in to block them before they took effect or shortly afterward. The AMA could use a win on the issue. The organization was sharply criticized by some physicians for endorsing the new health-care law without getting the formula straightened out in return.
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