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AMA SAYS MEDICARE PLAN WOULD CUT DOCTORS' PAY

Doctors at the American Medical Association's convention said they are all for changing the way Medicare reimburses them. They just don't want to be paid less.

A Bush administration plan to take effect in January would do just that.The AMA's policy-making House of Delegates on Thursday, the last day of its annual convention in Chicago, adopted resolutions denouncing the plan as "demeaning and misleading" and calling for a lobbying effort to change the fee structure.

"We support payment reform," said board member Thomas Reardon, a family practitioner from Portland, Ore. "But we want it done in a fair and equitable manner."

The AMA also warned that the plan could diminish the access senior citizens have to health care.

In 1992, when the fee schedule would begin to be phased in, Medicare payments to physicians would be around $32 billion, about the same as this year. But in 1996, when the plan would be fully in place, physician payments would be $3 billion less.

Medicare serves about 34 million elderly and disabled Americans. Because of its size, its revisions are watched closely and often followed by the private insurance industry.