Talking Points to Congress on Tuesdays

Tell Your Story. How Has the Ongoing Uncertainty in Medicare Affected You, Your Patients, and Your Practice?

I am a physician in your district, and I’m frustrated that Congress has failed to fix the defective Medicare formula used to pay physicians. This 12-year-old problem is threatening your most vulnerable constituents — elderly patients, Texans with disabilities, and military families — who depend on Medicare and TRICARE to get the care they need and deserve.

Physicians like me who care for Medicare and TRICARE patients simply cannot withstand another cut to our payments. The 27.5 percent cut slated for Jan. 1, 2013, would devastate my practice.

The defective payment formula and constant uncertainty are forcing doctors out of Medicare, making it more difficult for seniors, Texans with disabilities, and military families to get the care they need.

The number of Texas physicians accepting all new Medicare patients has dropped from 78 percent in 2000 to only 58 percent in 2012.

Meanwhile, the number of Texas physicians who limit how many new Medicare patients they accept and the number who decline all new Medicare patients each rose by 4 percent in the past year.

The government simply cannot run a health care program without a solid foundation of physicians to provide care to the millions of people who need it.

Congress has recognized the value that hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care professionals provide Medicare patients. They ALL get yearly payment increases. Physicians should be paid fairly, too.

No other health care provider or pharmaceutical should get another payment increase until Washington fixes the broken physician payment system.

We need a fair and 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. Physicians don’t need any more payment freezes or cuts — Medicare patients deserve a better long-term solution.