AMA Finds Lobbying Power Eroding; Payment Rates Vary
News outlets report on issues affecting doctors.
Three months the health law passed, the American Medical Association is finding itself "itself with fewer friends on Capitol Hill and more critics questioning its lobbying savvy," Politico reports. "Its troubles couldn't come at a worse time: It is more dependent than ever on having allies in Congress, thanks to the growing number of Medicare patients. The AMA's most prominent lobbying failure has been its inability to repeal the obsolete formula governing payments for Medicare patients - a method that has for years required regular temporary 'fixes' to avoid big pay cuts for doctors."
After an extended fray over the 'fix,' "Doctors walked away, finally, in much worse shape than when negotiations started, with only a six-month reprieve for physicians - so temporary it will have to be revisited again shortly after the November elections." The efforts cost the AMA "$6.2 million on lobbying in 2010, far more than other health groups, according to OpenSecrets.org, which tracks political spending" (Haberkorn and Kliff, 7/12).
Meanwhile,"[p]hysicians working in the same geographic area and performing the same tasks often are paid at different rates, according to a study presented at the AcademyHealth annual research meeting June 29 in Boston," American Medical News reports. "'Some physicians may be in locations that are particularly of interest to health plans. Or they may be in larger groups and more able to negotiate effectively,' said Laurence Baker, PhD, lead study author and a professor of health research and policy at Stanford University School of Medicine in California. 'But it does have an element of randomness to it.' Researchers analyzed 2006 data from Thomson Reuters MarketScan to confirm the existence and extent of payment variation. The database includes information on 12.2 million claims" (Elliott, 7/12).