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WASHINGTON — Doctors have so far managed to sidestep the thorny political debates about cost and value that have put pharmaceutical, insurance, and hospital executives in the congressional crosshairs. Instead, they’re in D.C. this week to ask for help.

They’re off to a good start: the American Medical Association’s three-day conference has already seen senators and top Biden officials take the stage to praise doctors’ work during the coronavirus pandemic in particular. And while lawmakers in both chambers are prepping a slate of hearings on Covid-19 spending, high drug costs, and surprise bills, the first item on Senate HELP’s agenda, this Thursday, is discussing the health care workforce shortage.


But it’s not clear whether the goodwill will translate into the policies and changes physicians are going to see. Congress snipped 2% off of Medicare payments to doctors last year, a big step back from the 8.5% slashes previously suggested but still one that AMA and other doctor groups staunchly opposed.

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