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New AMA, AARP TV Ad Calls On Senate To Stop Medicare Cuts To Doctors, Protect Premiums

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The American Medical Association and AARP unveiled a new television ad today in a joint campaign to spur congressional action to preserve Medicare patients’ access to health care by stopping Medicare physician payment cuts and protecting patients against steep increases to their premiums.

The new ad, airing throughout the country and in Washington, D.C. for the next two weeks, asks Medicare patients, “If doctors are forced to downsize their practices and Medicare premiums rise even higher, how will you get the care you need?”

“America's seniors expect their Medicare coverage to include access to the doctors they need, but if Congress does not stop planned Medicare cuts to physicians that expectation may no longer hold true,” said AMA Board Chair Edward Langston, M.D. “A full 60 percent of physicians say that next year's steep Medicare payment cut will force them to limit the number of new Medicare patients they can treat.”

Because of a broken payment system, Medicare will automatically cut payments to physicians 15 percent over the next two years. Over nine years the cuts will swell to about 40 percent, while practice costs increase 20 percent.

“People in Medicare have seen their premiums double since 2000; Congress must also protect patients’ premiums,” said AARP CEO Bill Novelli. “While premiums rise, insurance companies can look forward to cashing in on extra payments of more than $50 billion in taxpayer funds. Who should have to pay to make sure people in Medicare can see the doctor they want?”

The new television ad points out that “powerful insurance companies lobby to keep billions in excess Medicare payments that seriously threaten your healthcare.” AMA and AARP are calling on the Senate to take action, similar to the House of Representatives, which passed legislation to eliminate $54 billion in excess payments to private insurers offering Medicare Advantage plans. Only one in five seniors are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, but these excess payments to insurers are coming out of everybody's pockets.

“By eliminating excess payments to Medicare Advantage plans, Congress can put the savings to good use to stop the next two years of Medicare cuts to doctors and instead update payments to help cover increasing costs, while limiting premium increases for seniors,” said Dr. Langston.

“This TV ad is the latest round in our joint campaign to protect Medicare patients’ premiums and ensure that they have continued access to physician care,” added Novelli. “Senate action is critical in order to keep doctors in the Medicare program and to keep the program itself affordable for those who rely on it.”

Additional elements of the multi-million dollar campaign include activating the grassroots networks of both AARP and AMA and joint advocacy at the national level, including print ads in Washington publications and lobbying. Patients can let their Senators know protecting Medicare is important to them by contacting the AMA's Patient Action Network at www.patientsactionnetwork.org or calling 1-888-434-6200.

The ad can be viewed online at www.ama-assn.org/go/medicarepaymentkit.

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