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
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.
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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