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Letters: Give doctors the tools to fix Medicare

January 26, 2013

Re "Healthcare reform's fail-safe," Editorial, Jan. 20

The Times' editorial on the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, underestimates the impact of the board's ability to make indiscriminate cuts to Medicare.

Physicians are already dealing with a broken Medicare payment formula, which has led to a destabilizing cycle of scheduled cuts, short-term patches and payment rates that have fallen well below the rate of inflation.

It is widely agreed that Congress must eliminate this problem; the last thing we need is another arbitrary system that relies solely on payment cuts, rather than improved care delivery, to rein in costs.

The American Medical Assn. is working to move Medicare toward an array of new delivery and payment models that give physicians the flexibility to choose options they can use to help lower costs and improve the quality of care. Spending targets, such as those underlying the IPAB, are shortsighted and have been proven not to work.

Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD

Denver

The writer is president of the American Medical Assn.

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