Physicians to Congress: Don’t Let Sequestration Scrooge Medicare

Dec. 11, 2017  

Texas physicians are urging Congress to prevent the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act currently being reconciled in the U.S. House and Senate from slashing Medicare.

Budget sequestration threatens to cut physician Medicare payments, which could jeopardize access to care for nearly 4 million senior citizens and people with disabilities in Texas.

“Lawmakers must not balance the budget on the backs of our senior-citizen patients by jeopardizing their medical care,” said Texas Medical Association (TMA) President Carlos J. Cardenas, MD. “Sequestration cuts would double physicians’ financial penalty for accepting and treating the elderly and vulnerable people in our communities.”

Physician Medicare payments already are subject to a 2-percent budget reduction. Automatic sequestration cuts resulting from pay-as-you-go provisions of the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 (PAYGO) could reduce payments for Medicare services by up to 4 percent.

TMA sent letters to Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Texas members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging them to prevent sequestration as the two chambers negotiate a compromise between tax proposals. 

If not, “this will be bad for my patients and the 3.6 million Texans who depend on Medicare every day,” said Dr. Cardenas.

The sequestration threat occurs because both the House and the Senate versions of the tax bill are likely to increase the budget deficit and run afoul of PAYGO rules. When Congress fails to balance the budget, cuts to certain spending are implemented automatically … dropping the axe on Medicare payments.

For many Texas physicians, the fees Medicare pays them to care for these patients already are considerably less than the cost of providing services. Cutting Medicare compensation further has a high probability of further restricting access to care for Medicare beneficiaries. Just two-thirds of Texas physicians accept all new Medicare patients, according to TMA’s 2016 Physician Survey. Nearly eight in 10 doctors accepted all new Medicare patients in 2000.

These cuts do not affect Social Security or Medicaid — only Medicare.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 50,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 110 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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Contact:  Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear[at]texmed[dot]org

Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512) 650-5336; email: marcus.cooper[at]texmed[dot]org                                                  

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Last Updated On

December 11, 2017

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