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Congress must act on Medicare reform

A recent article highlighted the dysfunction resulting from the broken Medicare physician payment system ("End the 'doc fix' charade, once and for all," Jan. 22).

Physicians who care for millions of Medicare patients across our nation are weary of the destabilizing series of scheduled cuts and short-term patches, coupled with payment rates that have fallen well below the rate of inflation over the past decade.

It is widely agreed that Congress must eliminate this problem once and for all. But this is only the first step.

The AMA is urging Congress to move Medicare toward new ways of providing and paying for patient care that give physicians the flexibility needed to lower costs, improve the quality of care and help patients live healthier lives. To preserve Medicare for patients now and in the future we need a higher performing system that rewards quality patient care and reduces costs.

To achieve that critical goal, Congress must do away with the failed physician payment system and enact meaningful reforms that will move Medicare forward.

Jeremy A. Lazarus

The writer is president of the American Medical Association.

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