SEATTLE, June 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Brian P. Wicks, MD, President of the Washington State Medical Association: "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 first. "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 Monday. "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