Congress Turns Its Back on Medicare Patients Again

For Immediate Release
April 15, 2010

 

Contact: Pam Udall
phone: (512) 370-1382
cell: (512) 413-6807

Brent Annear
phone: (512) 370-1381
cell: (512) 656-7320

 

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The following can be attributed to William H. Fleming III, MD, president of the Texas Medical Association. Dr. Fleming's statement is regarding Congress' inability to stop the 21.2-percent Medicare cut to physician payments.

"The actions of Congress toward Medicare patients are appalling. First, Congress left town for its "Spring Break," allowing a 21.2-percent cut to physician payments on April 1 - leaving millions of Medicare patients in limbo about their care. This is totally irresponsible. Frankly, the games and manipulations of the system that Congress has necessitated during this 10-year fiasco are appalling. It is absolutely unacceptable for the United States Congress to inflict this kind of perpetual uncertainty on Medicare patients and their physicians.

"The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) ordered Medicare carriers to hold all claims for services until April 14. The thinking was that Congress would do the right thing and stop the cuts when they returned to work. However, Congress failed even to do that - it failed to put its traditional Band-Aid on the pay cut. As a result, today the 21.2-percent cut goes into effect.

"Obviously, Congress is indifferent to Medicare patients and expects physician practices to exist without any cash flow. When Congress allowed cuts to go into effect back in January 2005, the one-month delay and subsequent restoration resulted in an administrative catastrophe for physician practices and the program itself by causing millions of dollars in bureaucratic waste and months to straighten out, resubmit, and reconcile claims. 

"Physicians and front-line providers are the foundation of the Medicare program. Congress preaches creating medical homes and promoting access, but it appears to be just lip service. Without a robust supply of physicians to care for the millions of patients dependent upon Medicare, Medicare will implode. It was bad enough when this was an annual event. It's maddening now to patients and physicians on a monthly basis. No one can plan for a future beyond the next 30 days as these draconian cuts threaten the viability of many physician practices.

"That's why physicians and their patients across the United States are taking the issue into our own hands. Spearheaded by TMA, physicians and patients are circulating a petition to gather 1 million signatures demanding an end to the Medicare Meltdown. We are determined to force Congress to do the job we elected them to do - fix Medicare so it can provide the health care it promised to millions of Medicare patients.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing nearly 45,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 120 component county medical societies around the state. TMA's key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.

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TMA's Medicare Meltdown Action Center


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