Sequestration cuts inflict new physician pain, groups say

March 25, 2013

Cuts to Medicare and other services will not only cost healthcare jobs; they also are putting financial pressure on doctors.

Cuts to Medicare and other services will not only cost healthcare jobs; they also are putting more financial pressure on doctors, according to statements issued by two prominent physician groups.

Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, president of the American Medical Association (AMA), reports, “Our lawmakers have failed to act, and Medicare patients and physicians will now feel real pain in the form of new cuts that come at an already difficult time for the nation’s economy.”

A report released jointly by the AMA, the American Hospital Association, and the American Nurses Association found that up to 766,000 healthcare and related jobs could be lost by 2021 as a result of the 2% cut in Medicare resulting from sequestration,” Lazarus contends.

“The across-the-board cut will hit physicians particularly hard because of the fundamentally flawed Medicare physician payment system. Since 2001, Medicare payments for physician services have only increased by 4%, while the cost of caring for patients has gone up by more than 20%. A 2% cut widens the already enormous gap between what Medicare pays and the actual cost of caring for seniors,” he says.

Jeffrey Cain, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, agrees. “As small businesses operating on a razor-thin margin, family physicians will face a stark choice between putting their practices at risk or reducing the number of elderly and disabled patients they can see. Rather than rein in costs, sequestration payment cuts to healthcare providers will reduce access to needed care, increase the risk that preventable health conditions will develop or will worsen, and increase the chance that patients will ultimately require more intensive and expensive care.”