Date Published: 19 October 2005

AMA makes 'House Call' to south Florida encouraging seniors to get involved

Health News from the United States of America (USA)

Health News from the USA

AMA urges Congress to stop Medicare cuts now to avert Medicare access problem for seniors.

The American Medical Association's (AMA) National House Call campaign barnstormed Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach this week to draw attention to an imminent access to care problem for Florida's nearly 3 million Medicare patients. If Congress does not act, payments to physicians are scheduled to be cut 26%, forcing physicians to make difficult decisions about limiting the number of new Medicare patients.

" Medicare payments are scheduled for cuts of 26% over the next six years, while at the same time the cost of caring for patients will rise 15 percent," said AMA Trustee Edward L. Langston, MD.
" Physicians want to serve senior patients, but they cannot afford to accept an unlimited number of new Medicare patients into their practices if Medicare payments do not keep up with the cost of providing care."

" A recent AMA survey showed that 38% of physicians will stop taking new Medicare patients if the first of six scheduled payment cuts goes into effect January 1," said Dr. Langston.
" That is just the tip of the iceberg, as the vast majority of cuts are scheduled to come after 2006."

The AMA and Florida physician-leaders held press conferences in Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach to discuss the effects of the Medicare physician payment cuts in Florida.

The AMA is also running radio and newspaper ads in Florida this week urging patients to contact Florida's Congressional delegation to stop the Medicare physician payment cuts.

" The AMA commends Florida Representative Clay Shaw for leading the charge to safeguard access to care for seniors by introducing one of three bipartisan bills currently before Congress that stop the cuts," said Dr. Langston.
" The clock is running out, Congress must act to stop the Medicare physician cuts before January 1."

" Florida physicians want to keep treating their Medicare patients, but they are concerned about harsh Medicare cuts," said Dr. Langston.
" In Florida, Medicare payments to physicians will be cut by $252 million next year ? that's a huge loss of federal dollars that should be going toward caring for our state's Medicare patients. By 2011, Florida will lose $6.45 billion in federal health care dollars, more than any other state in the country."

" We're working to preserve access to care for Florida's senior and disabled patients," said Dr. Langston.
" If Congress does not act soon to halt the payment cuts, Medicare patients' access to care will be in jeopardy. Physicians are the foundation of Medicare ? we cannot let that foundation crumble."

Source(s): American Medical Association (AMA), USA.

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