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LETTER: Docs' Medicare reimbursements inadequate


TO THE EDITOR: As an employee of the American Osteopathic Assn., I am concerned about access to health care. In 2008, physicians will experience a 9.9% reduction in Medicare reimbursements, with additional cuts projected through 2015. Without congressional intervention, these cuts potentially could reach 37% over the next nine years, while physicians joining the medical profession are expected to grow at a rate of 2% to 3% per year. Physician reimbursements under Medicare are already well behind most physicians' actual costs of providing care.

These cuts come at a time when millions of baby boomers are becoming eligible for Medicare benefits, placing greater strain on the Medicare program. As a baby boomer, I am fully aware and concerned that additional cuts compound the discrepancy between actual reimbursements and practice costs, forcing physicians to weigh their continued participation in the Medicare program and thus affecting overall medical care for the largest segment of the population. This will result in reduced access to physician services for millions of Medicare beneficiaries in the future.

The physicians I have the honor to serve went into medicine to help patients and to improve quality of life. That fact does not mean that a physician's practice (business) is any different from any other business owner.

No business can survive working at a loss over such a prolonged period of time. As a future Medicare beneficiary, I should be concerned about continued access to physicians and specialists. And, I am.

Ellen Woods

American Osteopathic Assn.