Index Medicare pay to inflation

LETTER — Posted Dec. 4, 2006

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We enter 2007 facing Medicare fee cuts of 5%, plus the indirect fee cut from inflation. The progressive decline in physician fees cannot be stopped by "fixing the SGR" because the SGR is not broken. Its purpose is to keep federal spending on Medicare within limits, despite increasing utilization by patients, and it is doing that. Moreover, Medicare Part D competes for the same tax dollars. Patients see reduced access to medical care and receive more meager services as a result.

The basic demographic is the rapid growth of the Medicare population. We should seek to index physician fees for inflation, using 2000 as the base year. The Medicare Part B deductible should be adjusted each year by the amount necessary to keep spending within the limits set by Congress. Only by shifting more of the financial responsibility to the patients will it be possible to preserve access to care and quality of services.

Robert E. McMichael, MD, Arlington, Texas

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/12/04/edlt1204.htm.

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