Thursday, December 27, 2012

Medicare Patients’ Health Care Close to Free Fall

Michael E. Speer, MD
President, Texas Medical Association

Dr. Speer’s statement pertains to the anticipated nearly 30-percent cut in physicians’ Medicare and TRICARE payments under the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. The cut is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

Congress’ inept inaction has pushed the nation to the fiscal cliff; Medicare patients and physicians who care for them now will be the first to take those harrowing steps into free fall.

On New Year’s Day, physicians’ Medicare payments will be slashed almost 30 percent, affecting 2.8 million Medicare patients in Texas and more than 870,000 military families who receive health care coverage through TriCare. The uncertainty of Medicare also affects jobs of more than 240,000 employees of medical practices in the state.

For almost 12 years, doctors have urged Congress to fix the broken Medicare funding formula used to pay physicians. Every year, physicians have faced a double-digit pay cut because of this faulty formula. Congress has stopped the cut but has never fixed the underlying problem. Now this ongoing saga is embroiled in the fiscal cliff negotiations and is likely to make it more difficult for Medicare patients to get care from a physician of their choice when they need one.

It’s simply irresponsible of Congress to push Medicare patients, their physicians, and the nation’s economic future into dire chaos. Our nation’s leaders must put politics aside and work on real issues to move our country forward – instead of pushing us downward into a spiraling free fall.

For more informaiton, watch this TMA video which simplifies the problem of the flawed Medicare physician funding formula. Although it was produced in anticipation of last year’s huge Medicare cut, it is pertinent once again. 

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