Alas, the congressional supercommittee failed to reach a concensus regarding deficit reduction -- so Medicare payments, GME funding, and many other medical and public health programs will be automatically cut as of 2013. Advocates are worried that the cuts will affect biomedical research (especially NIH funding), CDC funding (including emergency responses and subsidized vaccines), andHIV/AIDS therapy for low-income patients, to name a few.
The AMA is especially concerned about the new Medicare cuts, given that there is already a 27% payment cut scheduled for Jan 1 of next year. AMA Pres Peter Carmel said, “Congress has ignored the reality that short-term patches have grown the problem immensely. The cost of repealing the formula has grown 525 percent in the past five years and will double again in the next five years.”
In other federal government news, CMS Director Donald Berwicke is out, Deputy Administrator Marilyn Tavenner is in. Berwicke was appointed to the position in 2010 without congressional confirmation, with Republicans wary of his "pro-health care rationing" stance. Tavenner is similarly unlikely to be confirmed -- apparently no CMS director has been since 2009 -- and instability within the agency is likely to remain unchanged. The AMA supports Tavenner, though, if that helps things.
With so much going on in the world of health care this week, you can't help but get riled up. If you want to use this passion to get more involved with the AMA, the national Standing Committees are again accepting applications through Thurs 12/1! A bunch of us from your UB AMA hold positions on various committees, so feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.