Date Published: 10 July 2007

Medicare cuts to physicians could harm Oregon seniors (USA)

Health News from the United States of America (USA).


AMA makes 'House Call' to Oregon, discusses new national physician survey.

The American Medical Association (AMA) National House Call campaign came to Oregon today to draw attention to an imminent access to care problem for Oregon's nearly 504,000 Medicare patients. The government will cut Medicare physician payments 10% on January 1, 2008, forcing physicians to limit the number of new Medicare patients they can treat.

" More than half a million seniors in Oregon depend on Medicare for their health care coverage, and they will be negatively affected by Medicare cuts to physicians," said AMA House of Delegates Speaker Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD.

" According to the AMA's new physician survey, 60% of physicians say they will be forced to limit new Medicare patients when the government cuts payment rates 10% next year."

Congressional action is the only way to stop the Medicare cuts and preserve seniors' access to physician care. The AMA and the Oregon Medical Association (OMA) are urging patients to contact Oregon's congressional delegation to stop the Medicare physician payment cuts and provide physicians with a payment update in line with increases in the costs of caring for patients.

" Physicians want to care for seniors, but drastic Medicare cuts will force physicians to make difficult practice changes," said Dr. Lazarus.

" Oregon physicians will lose $41 million for the care of elderly and disabled patients next year due to the 10% cut in Medicare payments."

" Seniors in Oregon cannot afford to lose their doctors," said Klaus Martin, MD, President of the Oregon Medical Association.
" With just 19 practicing physicians per 1,000 Medicare Beneficiaries, Oregon has a below-average physician-to-population ratio - and this is before the cuts go into effect this January."

" Next year's cut is just the tip of the iceberg," said Dr. Lazarus.
" The government plans to cut Medicare payments to physicians about 40% over the next nine years, while practice costs increase 20%. 77% of physicians say they will be forced to limit the number of new Medicare patients they can treat if the nine years of cuts occur."

" Military families are also at risk, because, by law, the military health insurance program TRICARE ties its physician payment rates to Medicare. We are deeply concerned about access to care for Oregon's 67,000 TRICARE beneficiaries," said Dr. Lazarus.

" We thank the Oregon Congressional delegation for their past support to stop Medicare physician payment cuts," said Dr. Lazarus.
" Now, we urge them to stop the pending 2008 cut and instead adopt a positive update to preserve access to care for seniors and military families."

" Congressional action is needed now to preserve seniors' access to care and put Medicare on a firm foundation for the future. The government must keep its promise to America's seniors," said Dr. Lazarus.

 

Source: American Medical Association (AMA).

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