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Health care issues urgent

On March 12, I met with several of our congressional representatives, senators and staff on Capitol Hill to discuss three very important health care reform issues:

•Fixing Medicare physician payments. Without congressional intervention this year, physicians will face a 20 percent Medicare payment cut in 2010. These cuts are unsustainable for many physicians.

•Alternative Medicare payment options for physicians. Options under consideration – the medical home, bundled payments, gain-sharing and pay for performance – may result in barriers to needed specialty care.

•Allergist/immunologist work force issues. Although the demand for allergists will increase 35 percent by 2020, the supply of allergists is expected to decline. Increased federal funding is needed to avert a crisis in the treatment of allergy and asthma.

We focused on patient access, and quality and value of care. This is a critical time in our country for health care reform and it is important we do it right.

Richard G. Gower, M.D.

President, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology