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AAFP, ACP and AOA meet with Congress on Medicare reimbursements to physicians

WASHINGTON -- Today, the presidents and physician leaders of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American College of Physicians (ACP), and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) were in Washington to express "in their own words" the negative impact a 5.1 percent reduction in Medicare physician payments would have upon Medicare beneficiaries and their access to health care.

The physician fee schedule specifies payment rates to physicians for services and procedures. Under current law, the fee schedule is updated on an annual basis according to a systemically flawed formula that links the update to the growth in the U.S. economy. Based upon this formula, payment rates for physicians will be reduced 5.1 percent in 2007 without Congressional intervention. According to the 2005 Medicare Trustees Report, physicians will see their reimbursements cut at a rate of 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent per year through 2013 while practice costs increase at a rate of 2.7 percent per year.

Since 2001, the aggregate payment rate has decreased 20 percent below the government's conservative measure of inflation for medical practice costs. These cuts run the risk of destabilizing the Medicare program and may risk Medicare beneficiary access to physicians.

"Our organizations, representing nearly 275,000 primary care physicians nationwide, are in Washington to express our ongoing concerns about the impact of this cut on Medicare beneficiaries' access to physician services," stated ACP immediate-past President C. Anderson Hedberg, M.D., FACP.

John Strosnider, D.O., president of the AOA added, "reform of the Medicare physician payment formula, specifically the flawed sustainable growth rate, is a top priority for each of our organizations. For too many years, physicians have been subjected to an unpredictable and inequitable payment formula that fails to account for increases in the costs of providing care. We are not only
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Contact: David Kinsman
dkinsman@acponline.org
202-261-4554
American College of Physicians
12-Sep-2006


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