Going Over the Fiscal Cliff will Hurt Patients

Today, Roll Call Newspaper (Capitol Hill’s paper of record) published a Guest Opinion piece featuring the Alliance of Specialty Medicine and our own Alex Valadka, the Alliance’s spokesperson and chair of the AANS/CNS Washington Committee.  The article, “Doctors:  We Gave at the Office, and Then Some” addresses the idea that preventing the pending SGR cuts isn’t the only reimbursement challenge that physicians face and more physician cuts will hurt patients.

As Dr. Valadka says in his op-ed,

“What is the net effect of these unstable reimbursements, mandated payments and looming cuts? For more and more physicians, these multiple and repeated cliffs give us no choice but to limit the number of Medicare patients we see. Like it or not, this is rationing of care.

For the physician community, the stakes are just as great. Our patients will always need us, and with the Medicare population growing by a rate of 10,000 per day, the system needs more doctors, not fewer. Making it more difficult for Medicare patients to find care is the wrong direction to go in looking for solutions to the fiscal cliff.

The theme of shared sacrifice is one that is repeated by Congress and the president when debating means to solve our deficit problems. There isn’t a physician out there who would disagree with that theme. Our only hope is that these policymakers keep in mind that the Medicare provider community will already be absorbing a $415 billion hit over the next decade. We have already made our shared sacrifice. It’s time to move the target off the physician community’s back and allow us to treat our patients.”

It’s crystal clear that physicians simply cannot absorb cuts of this magnitude, and adding more cuts upon cuts to the equation will only hurt patients.

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