Chair of Doctors’ Group Touts Overhaul of Medicare
The U.S. "needs to find a permanent solution" to stabilize Medicare "to ensure this and future generations ... have access to the health care they need," Cecil Wilson, chair of the board of the American Medical Association, writes in a Chicago Tribune letter to the editor.
Wilson writes that he has "concerns about the overall stability" of the program, adding that the "widening gap between payments and cost of care makes it extremely difficult for many physicians to continue accepting new Medicare patients at a time when baby boomers are about to begin entering Medicare by the millions." Wilson cites an AMA survey that found almost half of physicians would be forced to limit the number of new Medicare patients entering their practices if payments were cut by 5% -- half of what is scheduled for next year.
Wilson writes that "unless Congress intervenes," additional cuts will be made "for each of the following nine years so that by 2016, Medicare payment rates for physicians will be 41% lower than in 2007." Physicians' costs are expected to rise by 20% over that same time period, according to Wilson.
Wilson writes, "Drastic payment cuts to physicians are not the answer," concluding, "Congress needs to begin working on long-term reform of the Medicare program" (Wilson, Chicago Tribune, 5/15).