Last week, Congress put a stop to the 2007 Medicare payment cut to doctors. This last minute action is sincerely appreciated by the American Medical Association (AMA), as it provides a critical reprieve and lessens the risk of severe access problems for seniors. If the 2007 sustainable growth rate (SGR) cut had occurred as planned, nearly half of physicians told the AMA the cut would force them to limit the number of new Medicare patients into their practice.

Sadly, physicians are forced to fight this battle to preserve seniors’ access to health care year after year. The flawed Medicare physician payment formula, the SGR, is to blame. The AMA renews its commitment to work with Congress, the Administration and senior groups on a more permanent solution to the flawed Medicare physician payment formula.  The time is long overdue to devise a sound financing system for the Medicare program so we can avoid this annual struggle to preserve seniors’ access to care.

The AMA has made clear our commitment to quality health care through the AMA-convened Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement, which has developed 151 quality measures to date. As we continue our efforts to improve quality, we look forward to working with the incoming Congress to address concerns with the 2007 quality reporting framework.

As a first step, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) needs to educate physicians and their staff on the new structure. The AMA is committed to working with CMS to help disseminate information to physicians on the new reporting program.