Medicare physician payment cut delayed until June 1

May 7, 2010

Congress again has delayed a 21% Medicare physician payment cut, this time until June 1.

Washington, DC

-Congress again has delayed a 21% Medicare physician payment cut, this time until June 1.

“Repeated delays and continued uncertainty, combined with the fact that Medicare payments, even without the 21% cut, have not kept up with the cost of providing care to seniors, demonstrates the need for a permanent solution to this annual problem,” said J. James Rohack, MD, president, American Medical Association (AMA), in a prepared statement.

“Congress must now turn toward solving this problem once and for all through repeal of the broken payment formula that will hurt seniors, military families, and the physicians who care for them,” Dr. Rohack said. “It is impossible for physicians to continue to care for all seniors when Medicare payments fall so far below the cost of providing care.”

Dr. Rohack said that in an informal poll by the AMA, 68% of physicians said that they will be forced to limit their provision of care to patients covered via Medicare.

Already, about 25% of patients covered through the Medicare program and seeking a new primary care physician are experiencing difficulty finding one, he added.

“Fixing the Medicare physician payment problem is essential to the security and stability of Medicare,” Dr. Rohack said. “If the [sustainable growth] formula is not repealed, the problem will continue to grow.” The AMA is working with senators, representatives, and others in the federal government to find a permanent resolution to this issue, he added.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has joined efforts with the Texas Medical Association (TMA), which has launched a million-signature campaign calling for a permanent solution to Medicare physician payment. Go to

http://www.aao.org/advocacy

for a link to the TMA’s online petition and a patient handout.