The annual delegates’ meeting of the American Medical Association continues through tomorrow (Wednesday) in Chicago. Iowa Medical Society president Doctor Steve Richard of Algona says our state’s delegation brings a couple concerns to the conference that are in line with the major agenda items this year. In fact, he says they were written up in Monday’s Chicago Tribune. A Dubuque doctor’s quoted on the delegation’s concerns about advertising pharmaceuticals direct to consumers, whether it’s of any benefit to patient care, the outcome of their cases, and the cost of healthcare. He says after seeing costly TV ad campaigns, they see patients come in sometimes asking about a brand-name drug.Richard says personally, he’ll hear them out and discuss the idea, but then consider other alternatives including those that might be a lot cheaper than “that purple pill.” He says he tries to find them the product that’s just right. The other “huge” item on the national agenda, he says, is a change in federal pay for doctors who care for low-income clients. A federal measure, part of the Medicare bill passed years ago, outlines decreases in the payments to providers, based on how much money’s being spent in the Medicare system. Richard calls it flawed, but legal. He says Iowa U.S. Senator helped doctors postpone the change in 2001 and again in 2004, but the moratorium will expire next year. If they’re allowed to take effect, he says the cuts i Medicare reimbursement in Iowa and also across the nation will be “extremely substantial.” and Richard says they’ll mean real trouble for many getting access to healthcare. “This isn’t about me makin’ more money,” Richard says, “this is about me making enough money to stay in business to see them.” He says if the proposed cuts take effect it’ll make it difficult for lots of doctors to keep seeing Medicare patients. The AMA conference in Chicago continues through Wednesday.
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