Thursday, August 4, 2011

The AMA During The Debt Ceiling Debate Or The Silence Of The Lambs

Oh, AMA, wherefore art thou? During the crucial debt negotiations just concluded, nary a peep was heard from your fine organization. You claim to represent the aspirations and political muscle of doctors in the country. Yet at the time when the voices of physicians would have been critical in shaping debate, you disappeared, mute and impotent.

So what did doctors get out of this debt deal once the dust settled? If a Congressional special committee is unable to find $1.8 trillion to cut from the budget, the deal calls for an automatic $1.2 trillion to be slashed, half from the Defense budget, half from Medicare providers. Not cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits, federal employee pensions, ethanol subsidies, foreign aid to the likes of Pakistan and Egypt, bizarre federally sponsored research, and on and on. That's right. Half of the responsibility of keeping the United States from becoming the Greece of the Western Hemisphere will fall on the shoulders of doctors and other health care providers. Less than one percent of the people in our country will be responsible for making sure the U.S. keeps its coveted AAA credit rating. In the meantime the other 99% of the population can continue to drive up the usage and costs of healthcare with impunity.

It is calculated that this will mean an automatic 2% cut in Medicare reimbursement to doctors. Though that may not sound like a lot, Medicare is already causing doctors and hospitals to operate at a loss taking care of its patients. If a public company was to announce that it's revenue will drop 2% the next year, you can imagine how investors would bail out of its stock. Not exactly the picture of a growth company, or even a value company.

Let's not even talk about what we're going to do about the SGR that is threatening to cut 30% from Medicare reimbursements next year. If the AMA was not able to affect a permanent fix to the SGR last year during the Obamacare debates, how are they going to convince Congress to dismantle the SGR that could potentially cost taxpayers $500 billion over the next ten years?

So once again American Medical Association, thanks for nothing. You've shown time and time again why the power brokers in Washington treat you with such disdain. With uncommon regularity you have proven why only about 25% of doctors belong to the AMA. You have not given doctors any reason to join your organization, even with your frequent half off membership sales. AMA=Fail.

No comments:

Post a Comment