• It’s very likely that providers are going to see their Medicare payments cut

    I think it’s time for the AMA to panic, but not for the reason everyone thinks. Today the President proposed cutting Medicare spending by reducing payments to providers.  I don’t think that’s how things will play out, however. I have to agree with Matt Yglesias here:

    [T]he biggest news out of today’s deficit plan from President Obama probably isn’t the plan itself but an ancillary veto threat. We’ve long known that the White House favors higher taxes on the rich, and also that it’s willing to consider agreeing to some very right-wing notions about Medicare spending as part of a grand bargain to get it. Today, though, the president is clearly stating for the first time that he will veto any plan from the super committee or elsewhere that cuts Medicare benefits without raising taxes on the wealthy.

    Given the rhetoric we’re seeing, it seems very unlikely that the supercommittee is going to recommend tax increases on anyone, let alone the wealthy. Given that, unless President Obama is bluffing, any cuts to Medicare (even those to providers) will be vetoed and not become law.

    But, when that happens, the trigger will go into effect. And, if you remember:

    If the panel can’t come up with enough savings, automatic cuts would go into effect. Medicaid, Social Security and veterans’ benefits would be protected. But providers could see a 2 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement.

    That’s how it could happen. I’m not sure I see a way out here. Happy to hear your thoughts!

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    • Mr. Carroll, I would encourage you to update your knowledge of the AMA. The Association can panic, not panic, go into convulsions, or implode….and this will have no meaning for practicing physicians. The AMA long ago abandoned its function as a representative body for American doctors. Current membership is far less than 50% of clinically active physicians (the usual stat is about 17% but this is misleading as it contains retired physicians and medical students).

      Goldman-Sachs and the AMA have a lot in common – the organizations’ vested interests came into direct conflict with those of their clients.

      • How does that change their ability to panic?

        I’m not claiming that a majority of physicians are members of the AMA. But that doesn’t change the fact that the general public sees them as the “voice of physicians”.

        • Actually a fair number of my patients are aware that the AMA has discredited itself. This is my personal experience and obviously my sample size is limited. Do you have data to support your statement that the “general public sees (the AMA) as ‘the voice of physicians'”?

          • Data? No. But I think it’s sort of obvious.

            You shouldn’t take this as an endorsement. But they have the largest lobbying organization of any physician group, testify before Congress all the time, the President goes to address them, and they are the ones who get quoted in the vast majority of articles.