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AMA's Multi-Million Dollar Ad Campaign Urges Congress: Fix Medicare Now

New poll shows 94 percent of Americans believe looming 30 percent cut is serious problem

For immediate release:
Oct. 7, 2011

WASHINGTON – Today the American Medical Association (AMA) is launching a television and radio advertising campaign to urge patients and physicians to tell Congress that the time for repeal of the broken Medicare physician payment formula is now. The Medicare physician payment formula will trigger a cut of nearly 30 percent on January 1 if action is not taken. 

Physician payments under Medicare have been nearly frozen for a decade, leaving a 20 percent gap between payment updates and the cost of caring for seniors. A drastic cut of nearly 30 percent is the largest ever scheduled and will force many physicians to limit the number of Medicare patients in their practice. This threatens access to care for seniors and baby boomers in Medicare and military families who rely on TRICARE. 

"Congress has repeatedly put in place short-term fixes to stop the drastic cuts caused by the Medicare physician payment formula, but that is not a solution – it is procrastination," said AMA President Peter W. Carmel, M.D. "These budget tricks only make the problem worse. It is time for the deficit committee to listen to Americans and solve this problem once and for all." 

Poll results released today by the AMA show a vast majority of Americans, 94 percent, believe the nearly 30 percent cut on January 1 is a serious problem for seniors. The AMA's national television and radio ads encourage all Americans to call on their members of Congress and urge them to protect access to care for Medicare patients. 

"Patients and physicians need to tell Congress that enough is enough: It is time to stop these budget tricks and provide a real solution," said Dr. Carmel. "Repealing the formula now stops this looming 30 percent cut, helps ensure access to care for patients and saves taxpayers money." 

The cost of permanent repeal of the Medicare physician payment formula has grown dramatically due to Congress' frequent short-term fixes. As recently as 2005 the cost of permanent repeal would have been $48 billion. If Congress continues to implement the same temporary fixes they have in the past, the cost will escalate to $600 billion in only five years. 

"Repeal of the Medicare physician payment formula is the fiscally responsible action for the congressional deficit committee; it has wide public support and bi-partisan congressional support," said Dr. Carmel. "Bipartisan plans, like those put out by the Simpson-Bowles Commission and the 'Gang of Six', show Congress can fix this problem that has plagued Medicare for years and reduce the federal deficit by approximately $4 trillion." 

The new television and radio ads are part of the AMA's grassroots effort to urge patients and physicians to contact Congress and encourage repeal of the Medicare physician payment formula before the 30 percent cut occurs on January 1. Patients and physicians are writing and calling their members of Congress, and physicians are posting flyers in their offices to provide information for Medicare and TRICARE patients on the looming cut and the need for congressional action now. 

All Americans can make their voice heard on this critical issue by joining the AMA's Patients' Action Network: www.patientsactionnetwork.org or by calling: (888) 434-6200.

Physicians can contact their elected officials through the Physicians' Grassroots Network: www.ama-assn.org/go/grassroots or by calling: (800) 833-6354.

More resources for patients and physicians on this topic are available at: www.ama-assn.org/go/medicarephysicianpayments



Heather Lasher Todd
AMA Media Relations

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