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Congress Fails Seniors; 21 Percent Medicare Cut in Effect Today

For immediate release:
June 18, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C.Today, Medicare begins processing physician payments with the drastic 21 percent cut that Congress failed to stop, and now seniors and physicians are paying the price of Congress’ Medicare mismanagement.     

“Congress is playing Russian roulette with seniors’ health care,” said AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, MD. “Congress has finally taken its game of brinkmanship too far, as the steep 21 percent cut is now in effect and physicians will be forced to make difficult practice changes to keep their practice doors open.”

“This is no way to run a major health coverage program,” said Dr. Wilson. “Already the instability caused by repeated short-term delays is taking its toll.  About one in five physicians say they have already been forced to limit the number of Medicare patients in their practice. Nearly one-third of primary care physicians have already been forced to take that action. The top two reasons physicians gave for these actions were the ongoing threat of future cuts and the fact that Medicare payment rates were already too low.”

“It is astounding that Congress has let seniors down through their inability to deal with this problem on time and in a responsible fashion,” said Dr. Wilson. This afternoon, the Senate voted to delay the cut another six months, but the cut is still in place until the U.S. House of Representatives acts.

President Obama urged Congress to fix the problem in his weekly radio address last Saturday, saying, “I realize that simply kicking these cuts down the road another year is not a long-term solution.  I am committed to permanently reforming this Medicare formula in a way that balances fiscal responsibility with the responsibility we have to doctors and seniors.”

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Contact:
Katherine Hatwell
AMA Media Relations
202-789-7419

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