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Physician Survey Backs Up Medicare Actuaries’ Claim that Seniors Access to Providers Could Be Jeopardized

May 12, 2010

Today, the American Osteopathic Association released survey results that found Medicare physician payment rate cuts will likely threaten seniors’ ability to find a doctor, corroborating the Medicare Actuaries report that drew the same conclusions.

The cuts, scheduled to go into effect June 1, 2010, would reduce physician Medicare payment rates by 21 percent.  The survey found that 37 percent [slide 22] of respondents would either “definitely not accept” or “probably not accept” new Medicare patients because of these cuts, and 24 percent [slide 21] said they would drop their current Medicare patients entirely.

Democrats’ series of short patches to delay the 21 percent cut—three times in the past five months—has only made matters worse. Commenting on the Democrats failure to responsibly address Medicare physician payments (SGR), America Medical Association Executive VP Michael Maves, MD, said, “These short-term actions are destabilizing medical practices—now on a monthly basis—leaving both physicians and their patients in limbo” in his April 12, 2010 letter to Congress.

Echoing Dr. Maves concerns, the survey found significant physician frustration, with 82 percent [slide 25] of respondents highly concerned that “Congress’s temporary fixes are unreliable, and you never know how much you will be paid from one month to the next.”

Despite spending more than one trillion dollars, the Democrats’ new health law failed to address Medicare’s physician payment formula.  By contrast, House Republicans offered a fully paid-for “doc fix” last November that would have provided doctors with a 2 percent update in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.