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AARP Urges Congress to Address Medicare Physician Payments

Failure to Do So Will Hurt Access to Health Care Providers for People in Medicare

December 19, 2012

Allyson Funk

AARP Urges Congress to Address Medicare Physician Payments
Failure to Do So Will Hurt Access to Health Care Providers for People in Medicare

Washington, DC – Today, AARP sent a letter to members of Congress urging immediate action to address the flawed Medicare physician payment formula. Failure to do so will result in an immediate and drastic 27 percent cut in payments to physicians treating people in Medicare on January 1, 2013. AARP urges Congress to protect access to health care providers for people in Medicare by making sure these cuts do not take place. The letter follows:

“Dear Senator/Representative:

“On behalf of AARP members, and the millions of older Americans and their families who depend on the Medicare program for health security, I urge you to take action to avert the looming payment cuts under the Medicare physician fee schedule that will occur at years-end. 

“As you know, physicians and other health care providers are scheduled to receive a 27 percent cut on January 1, 2013, as a result of the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.  This is in addition to the 2 percent reduction included in the planned sequestration.  Failure to adopt legislation to address the “doc fix” would create considerable instability in the Medicare program.  Such a significant reduction in reimbursement could cause providers to stop seeing Medicare beneficiaries or prevent them from accepting new ones.  We are disappointed that Congress has thus far been unable to develop a long-term solution to this perpetual problem.  However, even in the absence of a longer-term solution, the SGR cuts must not be allowed to occur.  Under current law, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services may begin issuing the reduced payments on January 1.  A reduction for even a short time in reimbursement rates could disrupt access to care, as providers may delay seeing Medicare patients until updated rates go into effect. 

“Protecting access to their Medicare doctors and providers is a top priority for older Americans.  In conversations, meetings, and surveys, our members have consistently said that they want Congress to find a bipartisan, fiscally responsible solution that will keep doctors in the Medicare program. They are increasingly concerned that, should reimbursement be cut, they will lose access to their doctors and future retirees will not be able to get the care they need.  It is crucial to ensure that Medicare patients can maintain relationships with the doctors and providers who treat them. 

“We look forward to working with you to address this problem in the remaining time this year.

A. Barry Rand
Chief Executive Officer”

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial 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 Americans 50+ and the world's largest-circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for the 50+ audience; AARP VIVA, a bilingual lifestyle multimedia platform addressing the interests and needs of Hispanic Americans; and national television and radio programming including My Generation and Inside E Street. The 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. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at


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