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 www.wsma.org.
SOURCE Washington State Medical Association