Focusing on looming Medicare physician cuts of 21 percent that begin on March 1, the American Medical Association (AMA), AARP and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) joined together today in an unprecedented multi-state event. With advocates in Washington, D.C., Madison, WI, Norfolk, VA, Bismarck, ND and Portland, ME, the three groups urged the Senate to permanently fix the Medicare physician payment problem before seniors, military families and baby boomers face a limited choice of physicians and limited access to care.
"Time is running out," said AMA Immediate Past-President Nancy H. Nielsen, M.D., from today's news conference in Washington, D.C. "The Senate must take immediate action to protect choice of physicians and access to care for Medicare and TRICARE patients. Congress must permanently repeal the formula that causes the cuts."
"Nearly 90 percent of people age 50 and over tell AARP they are concerned that the current Medicare physician payment formula threatens their access to care," said AARP's Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond, from an event in Washington, D.C. Rodger Wetzel, a member of AARP North Dakota's executive committee, added from an event in Bismarck, ND that "millions of seniors in Medicare, along with the first wave of baby boomers who are just a year away from reaching Medicare age, need Congress to fix the physician payment formula once and for all so they can be assured of continued access to care and choice of physician."
"Access to health care is already the single biggest problem for military beneficiaries of all ages, and these cuts will make the problem worse," said Captain Kathy Beasley, USN-Ret., MOAA Deputy Director of Government Relations for Health Affairs, from an event in Norfolk, VA. "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."
The AMA and AARP sent a letter to Congress today and are currently airing TV ads that call for the Senate to take similar action to the House and pass legislation that repeals the current Medicare physician payment formula and replaces it with one that better reflects increasing medical practice costs. The ad features seniors and military and says, "Physicians who care for Medicare and TRICARE patients face a 21 percent cut, and seniors and military families will pay the price with fewer doctors and less access to the care they've earned."
"We are already seeing patient access hot spots now," said AMA Board Member Ardis Hoven, M.D., from an event in Madison, WI. "About one in four Medicare patients looking for a new primary care physician are having trouble finding one. Through permanent Medicare payment reform physicians can be assured of stable payment rates from Medicare and TRICARE and can plan to care for these patients in their medical practices."
Previous short-term patches have increased the size of the cut and the cost of reform, making it imperative that Congress stop this vicious cycle with permanent reform now. Concerned patients can contact their senators through the AMA's Patients Action Network at 1-888-434-6200 or online at www.patientsactionnetwork.org.
"As advocates for older Americans, military families and physicians, we are jointly calling on patients and physicians to contact their senators and let them know it's important they repeal the broken payment formula to preserve access to care," said AMA President-elect Cecil Wilson, M.D., from an event in Portland, ME.
Learn more about the impact on each state at: www.ama-assn.org/go/medicarepaymentkit.
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.
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.