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AARP Letter Urges Congress to Ensure Older Americans Have Access to Doctors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 22, 2010

Contact: AARP Media Relations, media@aarp.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

 

Dear Senator,

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.

 

Sincerely,

Addison Barry Rand

 

For more information, please visit www.aarp.org.

 

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole.  AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates.  We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.7 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org.  AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors.  We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

 

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For media inquiries, please contact the AARP Media Relations Office at (202) 434-2560 or media@aarp.org.

 

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