For immediate release
June 27, 2008
Contact: Pam Udall
cell: (512) 413-6807
Contact: Brent Annear
phone: (512) 370-1381
cell: (512) 656-7320
"Texas physicians are deeply offended that Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison last night chose to protect insurance companies' profits instead of protecting our patients' health," the president of America's largest state medical society said today.
A 10.6-percent cut in physicians' Medicare payments is scheduled to take effect July 1. A bill to forestall that cut fell one vote short on the floor of the Senate last night.
"Either Senator Hutchison or Senator Cornyn could have made the difference," said Texas Medical Association President Josie R. Williams, MD. "Instead they chose to play partisan politics with our patients' health and voted to defend unnecessary overpayments ( PDF ) to certain Medicare Advantage health plans."
On behalf of the 43,000 physician and medical student members of TMA - and their patients - Dr. Williams today delivered a pointed message to both of the U.S. senators from Texas:
"For months, you have promised physicians you would not let the cut take place on July 1," she said. "Twice in the past two weeks, you have voted against bills that would have stopped the cut. Now it is just four days from taking effect. We expect you to keep your promise. It's up to you to stop the cut."
Dr. Williams also called on elderly patients and Texans with disabilities to hold Senators Cornyn and Hutchison accountable for their votes.
"We all need to let them know how disappointed we are by their choice of priorities," she said. "We need to let them know that Medicare patients shouldn't have to worry about whether they can find a physician to care for them when they are sick. Health care should be between the patient and his or her doctor, not health insurance plans or the government. Medicare patients shouldn't have to worry about who is going to pay for their health care."
According to recent TMA surveys, 58 percent of Texas physicians say the July 1 cut would force them to limit the number of new Medicare patients they can treat. The situation is even worse for primary care physicians - the frontline of health care for most Medicare patients. Only 38 percent say they would take new Medicare patients if the cuts go through.
The 2008 Medicare Fee Schedule by Geographic Region
We are still hoping that Congress will act quickly and fix the Medicare fee schedule retroactively, but for those of you who need to know, below are the fee schedules that implement the 10.6 percent cut effective July 1, 2008.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 43,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 120 component county medical societies around the state. Organized in 1853, TMA's key objective is to improve the health of all Texans.
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