Congress Stopped the Bleeding; Medicare Still on Life Support

For Immediate Release
June 24, 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 Susan R. Bailey, MD, president of the Texas Medical Association. Dr. Bailey's statement addresses Thursday's U. S. House of Representatives passage of a measure to temporarily undo the current 21 percent Medicare physician payment cut. The House passed H.R. 3962, previously passed by the U.S. Senate, which temporarily provides a 2.2-percent Medicare fee increase to physicians who care for Medicare patients through November 2010.  

"The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to stop the bleeding, but our Medicare system is still on life support. Physicians and our patients greatly appreciate that Congress has reversed the 21.3-percent cut in physicians' Medicare payments that took effect June 1. We appreciate the 2.2-percent increase that will run through Nov.30. But as speaker after speaker - including four Texans - noted on the House floor today, we've had enough of the Band-Aids. We need a brand new payment system. I don't want to be watching Congress wrestle with this turkey of an issue on Thanksgiving.

"A flash survey we just completed of Texas Medical Association members found that the ongoing cash flow problems and constant uncertainty over Medicare payments have forced Texas physicians to take, or consider, some drastic steps. Nearly two-thirds will reduce the number of Medicare patients they see, 55 percent will refuse all new Medicare patients, and half will lay off staff.

"We need a rational Medicare physician payment system that automatically keeps up with the cost of running a practice and is backed by a fair, stable funding formula.

"I am ready, right now, to roll up my sleeves and get to work. But physicians can't do it without Congress. And our patients, your constituents, need us to work together now and get this done."

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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