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Doctor Argues That Payments to Physicians Must Follow an Inflation Index

The yearly debate over Medicare payments to physicians has hit Congress, so thoracic surgeon William G. Plested III has hit the road to rally U.S. physicians as well as those in New Mexico to fight a probable 10 percent slash in fees.

To Plested, immediate past president of the American Medical Association, it is a matter of simple arithmetic. He said it costs a physician more to care for Medicare patients than Medicare pays. There comes a point, he said, where physicians will merely say no to accept Medicare patients, as they cannot afford to.

The association contends that in place of an annual recalibration of physician fees based on what, is known as the sustainable growth rate, Medicare must be pegged to a medical inflation index. Payments to doctors should rise or fall with the index.

In a latest interview with the Journal, Plested dismissed comes near to improving medical practice economics such as increasing physician productivity, paying physicians for improving performance or encouraging physicians' offices to take on computer technology. Unless sufficient physicians are monetarily motivated to see patients, it will not matter much if their offices are more capable, Plested said.

Complicated Formula

Losing Ground

Spending Growth

Health Care Investment



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