Leading advocates for seniors, military families and physicians joined together to call for passage of legislation in the House that will preserve access to care for seniors, baby boomers and military families through repeal of the broken Medicare physician payment formula. A vote on H.R. 3961, the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009, is expected this week, and the American Medical Association (AMA), AARP and the Military Officers of America (MOAA) call on members of Congress to honor the federal government's obligations to seniors and military families and pass the bill.
"Without repeal of the broken payment formula, the security and stability of Medicare is at risk for seniors who rely on the program now and baby boomers who will enter it in two years," said AMA Immediate-Past President Nancy Nielsen, M.D. "Physicians want to care for seniors and military family patients, but steep payment cuts of 21 percent next year, with more in years to come, will force them to limit the Medicare and TRICARE patients they can treat."
"This is the time of year when physicians have to decide if they will participate in Medicare through the physician open enrollment process," said Dr. Nielsen. "Swift passage of H.R. 3961 will be a vote of confidence for America's physicians as they decide if they can participate in Medicare next year and care for seniors and military families."
"A recent poll by the AARP found that 76 percent of Americans 50 and older believe that ensuring that people could see the doctor of their choice is a convincing reason to support health care reform," said AARP President Jennie Chin Hansen. "Baby boomers are caring for parents who rely on Medicare now, and the first wave of boomers will reach age 65 in two years. Let's do away with the current payment formula so seniors can have the piece of mind that comes with knowing they can see the doctor of their choice and get the care they need."
"Access to health care already is the single biggest problem for military beneficiaries of all ages," said Colonel Steve Strobridge, USAF-Ret., Director of Government Relations, MOAA. "The 21 percent cut to Medicare and TRICARE payments called for under current law would make that problem exponentially worse by causing large numbers of doctors to stop seeing elderly and military patients. The last thing troops in combat should have to worry about is whether their sick spouse or child can find a doctor to treat them."
"Congress has taken short-term action in the past, but we can no longer support putting a band-aid on the festering wound that is Medicare's physician payment formula," said Dr. Nielsen. "The old band-aid approach is fiscally irresponsible, since it has only served to make future cuts steeper and increase the costs of true payment reform. It is essential that Congress fix the formula once and for all so we can meet the goals of comprehensive health reform that improve the system for patients and those who care for them. As Congress prepares to make new coverage commitments to the American people, they must honor the obligations already made to seniors and military families."
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.5 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's 40 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
About the American Medical Association
The American Medical Association helps doctors help patients by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional and public health issues. Working together, the AMA's quarter of a million physician and medical student members are playing an active role in shaping the future of medicine. For more information on the AMA, please visit www.ama-assn.org. Follow AMA on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AmerMedicalAssn.
About the Military Officers Association of America
MOAA is the nation's largest association of active duty, National Guard, Reserve, retired, and former military officers and their families and survivors, and the fourth-largest veterans' association, with more than 370,000 members. The association promotes a strong national defense by advocating equitable treatment of those who serve and have served their country in uniform.