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U.S. House votes with seniors, military families and physicians to preserve access to health care

Bill permanently repeals Medicare physician payment formula; now Senate must act

For immediate release:
Nov. 19, 2009

Statement attributable to:
J. James Rohack, MD
President, American Medical Association

“The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation today that permanently repeals the broken Medicare physician payment formula that hurts access to care for seniors, baby boomers and military families. This vote is an important step toward ensuring a more stable and secure Medicare system for the patients it serves. The American Medical Association thanks the members of Congress who put patients above politics and voted yes on H.R. 3961, the “Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009.”   

“Support of the bill by AMA, AARP and the Military Officers Association of America helped drive home the real-life impact cuts would have on access to care for seniors, baby boomers and military families. Without action by both houses of Congress, Medicare will cut payments to physicians by 21 percent in 2010, with more in years to come. Today’s House vote is the first step toward preventing this cut and eliminating the formula that creates a roller coaster of uncertainty for seniors and the physicians who care for them.  Promises have been made to seniors and military families – and the House recognizes that those promises must be kept. 

“Seniors who rely on Medicare now and the baby boomers who reach age 65 in less than two years expect access to care and choice of physician. The House recognizes that the best way to achieve access and choice for patients is to repeal the broken physician payment formula. The House also acted on behalf of military families whose health care is at risk, as TRICARE ties its payment rates to Medicare.

“The AMA urges the Senate to act quickly before the cut begins on January 1. Fixing the Medicare physician payment formula once and for all is an essential element of comprehensive health reform. Congress needs to fulfill its current commitments as it considers expanding its obligations. Physicians must be assured of stable payments so they can continue to care for seniors, baby boomers and military families.”

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For more information, please contact:            

Brenda L. Craine
Director, AMA Media Relations
(202) 789-7447

Katherine Hatwell
AMA Media Relations
(202) 789-7419