President Obama Calls on Congress to Act Quickly to Stop Medicare Cut, Recommits to Permanent Medicare Payment Reform in Today's Radio Address

Jun 12, 2010, 10:51 ET from American Medical Association

AMA Urges Congress to Fix Medicare Now at Annual Meeting Beginning Today

WASHINGTON, June 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- President Obama called on Congress today to avert a 21 percent cut in payments to physicians who treat Medicare patients in his weekly radio address. He also reiterated his commitment to permanent reform of the Medicare physician payment formula.

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"I realize that simply kicking these cuts down the road another year is not a long-term solution," President Obama said. "I am committed to permanently reforming this Medicare formula in a way that balances fiscal responsibility with the responsibility we have to doctors and seniors."

"We are pleased to see President Obama stand with seniors and their physicians today to help stop a looming Medicare meltdown," said AMA President J. James Rohack, M.D. "Already, 31 percent of primary care physicians are limiting care to Medicare patients, according to a new online survey of physicians who treat Medicare patients. Congress' mismanagement of the Medicare program must end to protect and preserve access to health care for today's seniors and the baby boomers who begin aging into Medicare next year. "

Results of a new online survey of 9,000 physicians who care for Medicare patients confirms that seniors are already being hurt by Congress' Medicare mismanagement.  About one in five physicians (17%) say they have already been forced to limit the number of Medicare patients in their practice. The top two reasons physicians gave for limiting care were the ongoing threat of future cuts and the fact that Medicare payment rates were already too low.  Current Medicare payment rates are about where they were in 2001 while medical practice costs have increased 20 percent.

AMA physicians will sign white lab coats with messages to Congress tomorrow at the AMA Annual Meeting urging long-overdue immediate action on Medicare for seniors and for military families who get their health care through TRICARE, which ties its payment rates to Medicare.

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SOURCE American Medical Association