Clock Ticking To Stop Medicare Physician Cuts That Hurt Seniors

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The American Medical Association (AMA) urged Congress to take immediate action to avert looming Medicare physician payment cuts that will harm seniors’ access to care in testimony to the House Small Business Committee. AMA Board Member Cecil Wilson, MD, highlighted the impact the cuts will have on the many physicians who are small business owners.

“There’s no doubt that the Medicare cuts will hurt seniors as physicians are forced to make practice changes to keep their medical practice doors open,” said Dr. Wilson. “Half of the physician practices in the nation have less than five physicians, yet they account for 80 percent of all patient visits to the doctor’s office.” 

An AMA survey found that 60 percent of physicians would be forced to limit the number of new Medicare patients they can treat if this year’s 10.6 percent cut goes into effect this July as planned. Over a year and half the cut grows to over 15 percent, and the future for seniors’ access to care is dire – unless Congress acts.

“The Medicare cuts also have a ripple effect on quality of care for all patients, as more than two-thirds of physicians say they will defer purchases this year of information technology used to improve patient care,” said Dr. Wilson.

“There are only 53 calendar days, and substantially fewer legislative days remaining for Congress to fix this problem,” testified Dr. Wilson. “We urge Congress to take immediate action to replace 18 months of cuts that begin this summer with payment updates that reflect medical practice cost increases.”

Dr. Wilson pointed out that an 18 month update will inject stability into the system for seniors and their physicians, and provide time for lawmakers to begin work on a long-term solution to the Medicare cuts problem.

“In three years, the first wave of baby boomers will begin aging into the Medicare program,” said Dr. Wilson. “Couple that with a predicted physician shortage, and the Medicare physician payment cuts will have a devastating effect on access to care for seniors and baby boomers.”

“Nearly three-quarters of Americans surveyed want Congress to stop the Medicare physician payment cuts to preserve patient access to care,” said Dr. Wilson. “Time is short, and we urge Congress to act before it is too late.”

About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association helps doctors help patients by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional and public health issues. Working together, the AMA’s quarter of a million physician and medical student members are playing an active role in shaping the future of medicine.

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