US Senate Deserts America's Seniors, Active Duty Military Personnel and Their Families

Statement from Brian P. Wicks, MD, President of the Washington State

Medical Association

Jun 27, 2008, 01:00 ET from Washington State Medical Association

    SEATTLE, June 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a
 statement by Brian P. Wicks, MD, President of the Washington State Medical
     "A bill that would have prevented an already seriously eroded access to
 care problem for Medicare beneficiaries and our military and their families
 from getting much worse was defeated on a procedural vote in the US Senate
 yesterday when 40 Senators decided politics and other interests should come
     "The failure of 40 Senators to allow HR 6331, The Medicare Improvements
 to Patients and Providers Act, to go to the floor for debate and action is
 reprehensible. Senate rules require 60 votes to override a filibuster so a
 measure can be debated on its merits. Yesterday's vote was 58 to 40.
     "Every one of the over 1,000,000 people affected in our state should be
 outraged. Passage of HR 6331 would have prevented a 10.6 percent cut in
 Medicare and TriCare (the program for the military) payments for
 physicians' services from going into effect on July 1. The bill had passed
 the House of Representatives on a non-partisan vote of 355 to 59 last
     "Both Senators Murray and Cantwell voted for the measure to be
 considered. All nine of Washington's representatives, Democrat and
 Republican, voted for the bill in the House. They deserve our thanks for
 their support of these patients.
     "The House has now adjourned for the 4th of July holiday. The Senate is
 expected to leave on its break very shortly.
     "The entire Congress has had six months to deal with the cut. Now,
 thanks to a few Senators, we stand at the brink of a Medicare meltdown. On
 July 1 the government will slash Medicare physician payments by 10.6
 percent, forcing many physicians to make the difficult choice to limit the
 number of Medicare patients in their practices, or even stop taking
 Medicare patients altogether. Medicare's current payments are already below
 most physicians' practices' cost to provide care - these new cuts will push
 more practices to further limit access for these patients.
     "Those senators who voted against the bill must return from their
 recess and political picnics and make Medicare their top priority. This is
 not a partisan issue - it is a patient access issue."
     The Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) represents over 9,000
 physicians and surgeons throughout the state of Washington. More
 information about the WSMA can be found at

SOURCE Washington State Medical Association