Americans Want Congress to Stop the Medicare Physician Cut That Hurts Seniors
New AMA Poll Released at National Physician Meeting as Steep Cut Looms December 1; New National Ad Published Today
For immediate release
November 8, 2010
SAN DIEGO—A staggering 94 percent of Americans are concerned about a looming Medicare cut to doctors, according to a new American Medical Association (AMA) poll released today at the organization's semi-annual meeting of physician leaders from across the nation. Without congressional action, physicians caring for seniors face a 25 percent cut that will hurt seniors' health care. A brand-new AMA ad is being published nationally today in USA Today and will also run in Washington, D.C. publications next week when Congress reconvenes.
"Our new poll sends a message to Congress that the American people want them to stop the Medicare cut with 95 percent of seniors saying Congress should act immediately to stop it," said AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, MD, from a news conference at the meeting. "On December 1 the cut begins, and if Congress has not acted seniors will suffer. We're pulling out the stops to get Congress to act. Our new national ad features seniors, a veteran and an active duty military member—as all these groups will be hurt by the Medicare cut. The ad urges concerned Americans to contact Congress and tell them to stop the cut this month."
Public concern about the impact of the cut on seniors is valid: Already about one in five physicians say they have been forced to limit the number of Medicare patients in their practice because of the ongoing threat of cuts and the fact that Medicare payment rates were already too low. "Physicians want to care for seniors, but it is nearly impossible for many physicians to keep their practices open to all Medicare patients when they face a 25 percent payment cut," said Dr. Wilson.
AARP is also concerned. "Americans 65 and over have earned their Medicare and the right to keep seeing the doctors they count on," said AARP Board Member Mara Mayor, PhD. "Congress has a responsibility to keep doctors in the Medicare program. It's time for politicians to come together to stop these cuts so seniors can have the peace of mind they've earned."
"Without physicians, there is no care in Medicare," said Dr. Wilson. "The roller coaster ride caused by Congress' inability to stop the cut for at least a year is eroding physicians' confidence and commitment to Medicare—right during Medicare's open enrollment season for physicians. There is a growing concern that Medicare is becoming an unreliable payer. Congress must allay that fear by stopping the cut for at least 13 months, which will provide time to begin working on a permanent solution in the new year."
Earlier this year when Congress failed to stop the cut before the deadline, physicians were forced to delay payments to suppliers and staff and take out loans to cover overhead expenses—in addition to limiting the number of Medicare patients they could treat.
"It's critical that patients get involved and translate their concern into action," said Dr. Wilson. "We have a new flyer that physicians can distribute or display in their waiting rooms that encourages patients to contact their members of Congress to tell them, ‘it's time to stop these cuts'; and the public can also get involved in the AMA's grassroots Patients Action Network to make their voice heard in Washington."
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Heather Lasher Todd