November 11, 2010
ASA Responds to Deficit Commission Draft Plan
The co-chairs of President Obama’s Deficit Commission released their draft plan to reduce federal budget deficits. The ASA applauds the efforts of the Deficit Commission to address the mounting federal deficit by seeking broad-based changes in federal expenditures and revenues. ASA agrees actions need to be taken to ensure the financial welfare for future generations.
However, the ASA is very concerned that the commission’s draft plan, like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), does not properly address financing for the dramatic expansion of medical coverage associated with health care reform. The commission proposes that physicians bear much of the brunt of reducing costs in Medicare.
While ASA commends the commission for calling for a permanent fix to Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and calling for medical malpractice reform, physicians should not be forced to shoulder significant Medicare payment cuts when that program’s payments are already far below market value. Anesthesiologists are paid by Medicare at 33 percent of what private insurers pay. Addition cuts will only make this disparity grow.
The ASA opposes the commission’s calls to strengthen the power of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). As created by PPACA, the IPAB solely appointed by the president, will have little accountability to Congress or the public and have all of the power to make crucial decisions regarding Medicare payment rates.
While ASA commends the Deficit Commission for their effort to improve the finances of the country, it urges them to recognize the already fragile status of Medicare funding for physician services. ASA will continue to work with members of both parties to constructively contribute to addressing the federal deficit while at the same time advocating on behalf of patients and our members.