By Mike Lillis
The American Medical Association (AMA), the nation's largest doctors' group, continued to blast Congress Thursday for its failure, thus far, to pass legislation preventing a steep pay cut for Medicare doctors.
"Congress has broken its promise to America's seniors," Cecil B. Wilson, AMA's newly installed president, said Thursday in a statement.
Legislation preventing the 21-percent cut to Medicare doctors technically expired at the start of the month, but the Obama administration has twice delayed the effective date. The cut is now scheduled to arrive Friday.
The House last month passed a 19-month doc fix, which would delay the Medicare cut until 2012. Senate Democrats initially considered the same fix -- and even endorsed the idea of a 43-month delay -- until pressure from budget hawks forced them to scale back the provision to six months (ie, to see them through November's elections). Even the trimmer proposal, however, has been met with howls of disapproval from Republicans who want to offset all the new costs.
Meanwhile, the AMA has continued to attack anything other than a permanent fix.
"Delaying the problem is not a solution," Wilson said. "Continued short-term actions are creating severe instability that harms seniors as physicians make decisions to protect their practices from Medicare’s volatility. Continuing down this path just slaps a Band-Aid on a problem that needs urgent surgery."
Democratic leaders, who have tried without success to pass the extenders bill in the face of GOP objections, have criticized AMA for attacking "Congress," and not focusing more sharply on the opponents of the bill.