AMA fights physician Medicare cuts

The American Medical Association has begun its latest no-holds-barred campaign to make Congress cancel a scheduled Medicare reimbursement cut. As part of its campaign, AMA is publicizing the results of its survey of 9,000 physicians, which found that more than half would to limit the number of Medicare patients they accept if the planned 10 percent cut is implemented. (Sure, there's a bit of grandstanding going on here--but the pain is real, too.) Patients aren't the only ones who would feel the impact. Half of the physicians surveyed would reduce their staff, two-thirds would defer IT investments and 14 percent vowed to "completely get out of patient care," the survey found. Meanwhile, the nonpartisan Medicare Payment Advisory Commission is recommending that Congress avoid reimbursement cuts this year, and argued instead that physicians should get a 1.7 percent increase.

In theory, CMS should have been cutting Medicare payments each year to account for the volume of patients they see, but since 2002, Congress has halted the cuts each year in response to challenges from physicians. If implemented, the cuts would shave reimbursement about 40 percent over the next nine years, despite the likelihood that physician practice costs will increase 20 percent over the same period.

To find out more about the cuts:
- read this Cox Washington Bureau piece
- read the AMA press release on and survey highlights