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AMA on the State of Health Care in Advance of the Presidential State of the Union Address
Date:1/24/2008

a's seniors to provide them with health insurance through Medicare, but that promise means little if seniors can't get in and see the doctor," said Dr. Davis. An AMA survey found that 60 percent of physicians would be forced to limit the number of new Medicare patients they can treat if the 10 percent cut occurs this July. "Medicare's physician foundation is at terrible risk because of a short-sighted payment plan that will cut physician payments 15 percent over the next year and a half, beginning this July."

Before the cut begins in July, Congress must take action to replace 18 months of cuts with payment increases that reflect medical practice costs. This will give Congress time to begin creating a new Medicare physician payment system that is based on medical practice costs. The current payment system is a barrier to improving the quality of patient care, as it prevents many physicians from purchasing new health information technology or spending extra quality time with patients on important preventive measures that can improve health and wellness.

Recent polls show that Americans are increasingly worried about health care costs. "As a nation, we now spend more than $2 trillion per year on health care costs, which translates to about $7,000 per person, and we need to ensure that we are getting high value for our health care spending," said Dr. Davis. The AMA has identified four broad strategies to contain health care costs and achieve greater value for health care spending: reduce the burden of preventable disease; make health care delivery more efficient; reduce non-clinical health system costs that do not contribute to patient care; and promote value-based decision-making at all levels.

A leading cause of rising health care costs is treatment for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. "We need to make an investment in helping patients quit smoking, avoid alcohol abuse, improve diet and increase exercise le
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SOURCE American Medical Association
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