Plenty of people are saying the United States should ante up for primary care. But where are we going to get the money?

A couple of months back, the group that advises Congress on Medicare funding suggested raising payments for primary care in a “budget neutral” way. Translation: Somebody else’s payments would be reduced. Surgeons aren’t too happy about that.

The American College of Surgeons recently fired off a letter to MedPac, the advisory group, and copied several senators and congressmen who control Medicare’s purse strings.

“As surgeons who care for patients in the most acute situations, we are deeply concerned about the consequences for patients’ ability to access high-quality surgical care should the Commission’s recommendation be implemented,” according to the letter, which was cosigned by a bunch of other surgeons’ groups.

MedPac’s recommendation, and the surgeons’ response, come at a time when docs are pretty jumpy about Medicare payments. The current Medicare funding package is set to expire at the end of June, and Congress has been trying to hash out a bill that would block a planned cut of about 10% in Medicare reimbursements.

This has become something of a regular routine in Washington—Congress intervenes at the 11th hour to block sweeping cuts in reimbursements, but only with temporary measures. So a little while later, the 11th hour rolls around again.

Source: Wall Street Journal