Dear Editor:

I cannot let Don Kennedy blame the Health Care Reform Act for the staff cuts at his doctor's office without correcting him ("The consequences of Obamacare," AFN, Aug. 11).

I believe staff was cut due to reduced Medicare reimbursement rates. The cuts in reimbursement stem from a payment formula based on the sustainable growth rate, or SGR, a program Congress set up in 1997 that tied the payments doctors received for treating patients to the nation's gross domestic product. The cuts were scheduled to take effect at the turn of the millennium, a series of quick fixes have pushed the schedule back. The last extension in June was blocked twice by Senate Republicans requiring it not add to the deficit.

I'm sure people remember the TV and newspaper ads from the medical community directed at the Senate to not go on break without passing the extension. Health care is a very complex issue and this is just one piece of it. Thank goodness President Obama and the Democrats faced this challenge. It's not a perfect bill, no public option for instance, but continuing to ignore the problem was not an option.

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