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Physicians, Military Officers Tell Congress: In Honor of Veterans Day, Protect Health Care for Military Families

For immediate release:
Nov. 8, 2011

Washington, D.C. – This Veterans Day, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) are calling on Congress to stop a 27 percent cut in Medicare and TRICARE physician payments to protect health care access for America’s military families and seniors. The organizations are asking the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to send legislation to Congress that will repeal the Medicare physician formula before the cut takes place on January 1. 

“The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has the unique opportunity to stop this cut and fix the growing problem once and for all,” said AMA Chair Robert Wah, M.D. “Access to health care for military families is in serious jeopardy. The men and women who serve in our armed forces, and the families who support them, deserve better. On Veteran’s Day, we need to let Congress know that these harmful cuts must be stopped.” 

TRICARE ties its physician payment rates to Medicare, so the scheduled 27 percent Medicare cut will hurt the nearly 10 million military family members who rely on TRICARE for their health care needs.

“This payment cut is the number one threat to military beneficiaries’ health care access,” said MOAA President Vice Admiral Norb Ryan, Jr., USN-Ret. “Having just returned from visiting with our troops in Afghanistan earlier this month, I know the last thing our deployed servicemembers should have to worry about is whether their sick spouse or child will have a difficult time getting the health care they need.”

Physician payments under Medicare and TRICARE have been nearly frozen for a decade, leaving a 20 percent gap between payment updates and the cost of caring for patients. A drastic cut of 27 percent is the largest ever scheduled and will force many physicians to limit the number of TRICARE and Medicare patients in their practice.

“As a physician who served in the military, I understand how important TRICARE is for servicemembers and their families,” said Dr. Wah, who served as a Captain in the United States Navy Medical Corps for 23 years. “Members of the military and their families are already making great sacrifices every day; access to health care should not be one of them.”

Those who wish to urge Congress to repeal the formula and stop cuts to TRICARE and Medicare, can contact their elected officials through the AMA’s Patients Action Network at 1-888-434-6200 or online at www.patientsactionnetwork.org.



Liz Magsig     
AMA Media Relations

Susan Stalder or Nancy Carr
MOAA Public Relations
703-838-0546 or 703-838-0545

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