Medicare payment panel will pit physicians against one another

LETTER — Posted May 8, 2006

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Regarding "New Medicare price review panel proposed" (Article, March 20): I read with interest the article in American Medical News concerning the proposed new Medicare review panel that will identify "overvalued physician services." When will all physicians learn that these ideas are not only divisive but will undermine our integrity as well as reduce reimbursement for all doctors?

The resource-based relative value scale clearly showed that the short-term gains by primary care at the expense of "proceduralists" did not last long and only created a widening gap between physician groups.

Payers salivate at the thought of reducing payments to any group of physicians, particularly when those reductions are supported by another. I absolutely agree that there are great inequities in payments to many of us. As a general surgeon, I am often paid less than a surgical specialist performing the same surgery. However, I've come to realize, and fight for the idea, that taking money out of someone else's pocket is not going to put more money in mine. That shifting of money only opens the door for reductions to all of us.

We must recognize that all of our services are undervalued and underreimbursed. As salaries of CEOs of third-party carriers rise exponentially due in part to reimbursement reductions (giving the lead to CMS), I, personally, will continue to advocate for all physicians to be paid appropriately for their expertise in medical care no matter what their field of practice.

Allan M. Arkush, DO, Indianapolis

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/05/08/edlt0508.htm.

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