Two Largest Patient-Advocacy Groups Unite to Save Medicare

For immediate release
Nov. 17, 2010

   

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

Pam Udall

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

Brent Annear

Rafael Ayuso
phone: (512) 480-2432
cell: (512) 419-8299
Rafael Ayuso  

 

FORT WORTH – Today, the nation’s largest state medical society and one of the largest patient-advocacy groups united to stop the Medicare Meltdown. This is the first time these two immense patient-advocacy groups have joined forces to ensure Texas’ 3 million Medicare patients receive the care promised by the U.S. government.

Texas Medical Association (TMA) physicians, AARP representatives, and more than 30 patients gathered at the Trinity Terrace Retirement Community in Fort Worth, Texas, and called on Congress to fix the crisis.

Texas patients picked up their phones and asked their U.S. senators and representatives to stop a 23-percent cut to their physicians’ Medicare payments scheduled to go into effect Dec. 1 [video]. The cut grows even larger after the New Year.

“I can’t believe we are here again, for the fifth time this year, asking Congress to stop another drastic cut to physician payments,” said TMA President Susan Rudd Bailey, MD.

The new health care law did not fix a 10-year problem plaguing Medicare, the government’s largest health care program. Medicare uses a flawed formula to pay physicians for taking care of seniors, people with disabilities, and military families who rely on TRICARE. TMA’s Medicare Meltdown video explains the situation.

“We need to fix the flawed physician payment system,” said AARP Texas State President Ollie Besteiro, “so seniors can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing they have a doctor they can count on. It’s time for Congress to stop pointing fingers and work across the aisle to find a common-sense solution that won’t drive doctors out of Medicare.”

“Each time Congress plays this game of chicken, the cut to physicians grows deeper, and fear among our patients and physicians increases,” added Dr. Bailey. “Patients fear losing their physicians. Doctors worry about how they can keep their doors open and continue to see Medicare patients. It’s a heart-wrenching situation all around.”

As a result of the constant uncertainty and fear of a drastic pay cut, more physicians are not accepting NEW Medicare and TRICARE patients. Many physicians have had to lay off staff, and defer investment in new medical equipment, health information technology, and other innovations that improve patient care and save lives.

Medicare patients from Fort Worth and Dallas also shared their fears about the Medicare Meltdown at today’s telephone rally.

“Cutting Medicare is not the answer. It’d be wrong. I know the country is broke, I know that’s true; but cutting Medicare is not the answer,” said Medicare patient Dolph Compere of Fort Worth. “A cut in Medicare is going to be a disaster as far as I’m concerned.”

“That’s why this ongoing problem with Medicare is so downright frustrating and fatiguing,” said Dr. Bailey. “Our patients deserve better. They deserve a health care system they can rely on when they get sick.”

TMA physicians and AARP Medicare patients are asking patients across Texas to call Congress at (202) 224-3121, urging them to act now to stop the cut [video].

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.

AARP LogoAARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan social welfare organization with a membership 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 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP’s millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, 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.

 

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