TMA's Plan to Fight the Medicare Meltdown

Due to Congress' inaction, Medicare payments to U.S. physicians were slashed by 21.2 percent on March 1. It's part of a 10-year pattern of threatened cuts, reversed cuts, and constant uncertainty. What we haven't seen is a financing plan that ensures that millions of patients with Medicare coverage have a physician of their choice to care for them.

Early in March, we expect Congress will come up with another Band-Aid that reverses the 21-percent cut for now. That is absolutely necessary, but it is far from sufficient. We need a permanent, 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.

We must act now to address this Medicare Meltdown. Here's what the Texas Medical Association is doing, and here's what you need to be doing. Here is TMA's Five-Part Plan to Fight the Medicare Meltdown:



What TMA is Doing

What YOU Need to Do


TMA physician and alliance leaders and senior staff are on Capitol Hill this week, meeting with Texas senators and representatives. We're making the case in person to reverse the cut and permanently repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate formula.

Light up the phones in D.C. Use TMA's Grassroots Action Center to contact Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison and your U.S. representative. Tell your story. Tell them what Medicare's flawed payment scheme is doing to your patients and your practice. Tell them you won't accept another patch. No more Band-Aids. Ask for their commitment to support a fair and permanent new payment system.

Engage Patients

Patient power is the key to our success. TMA is making it easy for patients to understand the Medicare Meltdown and get involved. We've activated and updated our Web site. Patients can log in and send a strong message directly to Congress.

Talk to your patients. Explain what's happening and how it affects them. Ask them to get involved. Point them to . TMA has written easy-to-understand talking points for you to use. We have flyers you can post in your office and cards you can hand out. Contact your county medical society for materials or download it all from .

News Coverage

TMA is in regular contact with Texas reporters in Washington, and with TV, radio, print, and online reporters across the state. We're educating them about the Medicare Meltdown and encouraging them to produce news stories that focus on your patients. We're collecting especially cogent and newsworthy stories from physicians and sharing them with reporters.

Share your stories. Please contact TMA's Media and Public Relations Department if you have a personal experience that illustrates how the Medicare Meltdown is affecting your patients. We would love to put you in touch with a reporter who can print or broadcast your story to the public. We would love to have you tell your story on talk radio.

Opinion Articles

TMA and county medical societies have been writing and submitting columns and editorials to newspapers across the state. We sent a brand new guest editorial from TMA President William H. Fleming III, MD, to all the major papers.

Add your voice. Send a letter to the editor of your local paper. Use one of TMA's sample letters or write your own. Be sure to keep it short, around 250 words, to increase the chance it will be published. You can find our sample letters and contact information for newspapers' editorial pages at .

Social Networks

Twenty-first century advocacy relies on social networks like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to spread the message rapidly. Members have great influence with their networks. This can make a video or simple message "go viral" with amazing speed. We're posting simple and compelling videos on TMA's YouTube channel. We created a "Stop the Meltdown" cause on Facebook. We have Twitter petitions aimed at influential Texans in Congress.

Engage your own network. View and share the videos on TMA's YouTube channel. Join the "Stop the Meltdown" cause on Facebook. Sign our Twitter petitions and they get automatically distributed to all your followers. Better yet, make and share your own video, find the right message for your Facebook friends, and come up with your own compelling 140-character Tweets.


Action , March 1, 2010