Internists' President Urges Sparing Primary Care from Medicare Cuts

Article excerpt

Fees for primary care services performed by internists and other primary care physicians must be shielded from proposed Medicare budget cuts, American Society of Internal Medicine's (ASIM) President Richard D. Ruppert, M.D., told a congressional panel in March. In testimony before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, Dr. Ruppert urged Congress to follow the lead of the Clinton Administration, which has recommended that long-undervalued primary care services, such as office, home, and nursing home visits, receive a full fee update in 1994.

Acknowledging that other interest groups might pressure Congress to dilute or reconfigure the Medicare cuts proposed by the administration, Dr. Ruppert asked lawmakers to hold steadfast against changes that could adversely affect primary care.

Dr. Ruppert, a Toledo internist and president of the Medical College of Ohio, said exempting primary care services from the proposed budget cuts "would be an important first step toward alleviating a growing crisis in access to primary care." Citing ASIM's recently released White Paper, "Rebuilding Primary Care," he said the current undervaluing of primary care services by Medicare and other insurers has played a role in the steady decline in the percentage of primary care physicians in the United States. …