FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2010
Contact: AARP Media Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-434-2560
AARP Letter Urges Congress to Ensure Older Americans Have Access to Doctors
“Medicare patients and the doctors who treat them have been held hostage by short-term patches …”
WASHINGTON— AARP CEO A. Barry Rand sent a letter to every Member of Congress today urging them to immediately pass legislation that would preserve access to physicians for people in Medicare by rescinding a recently implemented 21 percent cut to Medicare physician reimbursements. Without action from Congress, more doctors may make the decision, already made by some, to stop taking Medicare patients. In the letter, Rand also urges Members of Congress to include provisions that would extend unemployment benefits and provide additional resources to states to help cover the cost of providing health coverage to low income individuals. Rand’s letter to U.S. Senators follows:
June 22, 2010
On behalf of millions of AARP members, I urge you to immediately pass legislation that ensures seniors have access to their physicians, and provides much needed fiscal relief to the states and to unemployed individuals.
Regrettably, given Congress's failure to reach timely agreement on a Medicare physician pay package, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has now been forced to implement a draconian 21.3 percent reduction in their reimbursements. This cut threatens access to physician services for millions of Medicare beneficiaries – especially those living in rural and other underserved areas.
While Congress continues to debate temporary patchwork solutions, people on Medicare are growing increasingly anxious about whether they will be able to find a doctor when they need one. Seniors, who have paid into Medicare their entire working lives, deserve the peace of mind of knowing they will be able to find a doctor who will treat them.
AARP urges Congress to act immediately to stabilize doctor reimbursement rates for as long as possible until a permanent solution can be found. For nearly a decade, Medicare patients and the doctors who treat them have been held hostage by short-term patches to an unworkable Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. In the months to come, we look forward to working with Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to repeal the SGR formula and replace it with a permanent physician payment system for Medicare that rewards value and ends the uncertainty for patients and providers alike.
In addition, enhanced Medicaid funding to states to assist them with the added costs of providing health coverage to low income individuals and for home and community based services must be extended.
Finally, we urge the extension of unemployment benefits for those unable to find jobs during this economic downturn.
AARP members are counting on you to address these critical issues immediately to protect their health and economic security.
Addison Barry Rand
For more information, please visit www.aarp.org.
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