AMA to Physicians: Prepare for the Worst

The American Medical Association today told physicians to start preparing for a 27% cut in Medicare payment rates, after concluding that the deficit talks on Capitol Hill are “at an impasse.”

The AMA wrote, “We feel compelled to advise physicians to start making plans for steps they can take to mitigate this disruption and meet their own financial obligations in January, in case the 26.5 percent cut actually takes effect. ”

The AMA continued, “Given the potential impact on practice revenue in early January, physicians should be certain adequate arrangements are in place to sustain their practices.  For those physicians who are forced into the untenable position of limiting their involvement with the Medicare program because it threatens the viability of their practices, we urge that patients be notified promptly so that they, too, can explore other options to seek health care and medical treatment.”

The Administration has announced that if the cuts go through, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will follow normal claims processing procedures.  That is, claims will not be held and Medicare carriers will process payments for physician services provided after December 31 under the normal 14-day cycle required by law.  Payment for these claims would be based on the new, lower fee schedule conversion factor of $25.0008, as opposed to the current rate of $34.0376.

The AMA continues to urge Congress to block the cut and enact for a permanent replacement for the SGR. In a message today, the AMA called the failure of Congress to address the situation “inexcusable.”

It said, “This continuing game of political chicken is unacceptable and dangerous to the future of the Medicare program.”

The Massachusetts delegation has had a strong record of support for the MMS objective of replacing the current Medicare payment formula with a permanent, rational and sustainable new payment system.

Last week, MMS President Richard V. Aghababian, MD, wrote the Massachusetts delegation, saying,  “There is no question that cuts of this magnitude would erode access to health care as well as the medical and health care community in this region.”

  1. The challenge as i see it, although the concerns could be premature, physicians should continue to focus on ways to maintain their independence such as direct to consumer marketing (, a focus on preventative care options, and new innovative service offerings.

    With steps such as these, a plans foundation will begin to be built to prepare for some of the noted changes.

  2. charles clark says:

    The hypocritical ama strikes again. didn’t they endorse the medicare cuts when they sanctioned the affordable health care act.


    nfortunately for everyone, the living conditions of the global village are changing, not only reduce economic recuersos but change of place. Rich countries are no longer the world’s income and balancing and diverting going to emerging countries .. We must do more with less and that we know well in Europe, now it has come to you. Fight against austerity is very difficult in a crisis and I think the best deal is the commitment of the authorities when the cycle changes, doctors recover lost and more. Honestly I see no other solution at this time

  4. I’m not sure why the AMA is jumping to this conclusion all of a sudden now. I understand that the language used in the above article has to be extreme for political purposes, but such scare tactics disrupt doctor-patient relationships prematurely. How to “prepare” for cuts in medicaid is unclear. Pay your secretary less?

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