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Medicare payment cuts will accelerate primary care collapse

Washington -- By not including funds to offset a pending cut in Medicare payments to physicians, the president's FY 2008 budget will accelerate the collapse of primary care, create access problems, and manufacture obstacles to fundamental reform of physician payment policies, the American College of Physicians (ACP) said today. The organization of 120,000 internists and medical students noted that the budget assumes at least an 8 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors -- which is not sustainable -- and is certain to have a multitude of adverse effects.

"This Medicare payment cut will cause severe access problems and will stand in the way of achieving long-standing and fundamental reforms in physician payment policy to support quality improvement and patient-centered primary and principal care," ACP President Lynne M. Kirk, MD, FACP emphasized. "It is essential that lawmakers agree on a longer-term fix that will provide positive and stable updates, create sustained incentives for quality improvement, and support patient-centered care coordinated by a personal physician."

The administration's budget seeks to squeeze some $101.5 billion of savings from Medicare and Medicaid over the next five years. The two plans cover more than one in four Americans.

The FY 2008 budget proposes changes in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) to focus more on low-income families. The changes would reduce S-CHIP spending by $223 million, or 4 percent, from this year's level.

ACP instead proposes that Congress provide increased funding to sustain and expand the S-CHIP program to more low-income children and their parents. The College also recommends that Congress take steps to expand Medicaid to all individuals with incomes below the federal poverty level.

ACP applauds the almost $11 million increase proposed in the budget for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). The nation's leading Federa
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Contact: David Kinsman
dkinsman@acponline.org
202-261-4554
American College of Physicians
5-Feb-2007


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