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Maine Seniors Fear They Will Lose Their Doctors

An overwhelming number of AARP members across Maine, regardless of political party, say they are concerned they could lose their doctor if Congress fails to stop a 25 percent pay cut facing Medicare doctors, according to a recent survey. The survey also found that AARP members fear it could be very difficult for them to find a new doctor that would accept Medicare patients if Congress fails to act.

“We don’t have enough doctors in Maine as it is, and half of them are nearing retirement. We can’t afford to have a 25 percent pay cut drive more doctors out of practice” said Nancy Kelleher, AARP Maine Director. “We know how important it is to our members to be able to keep their doctors. I hope our lawmakers consider this survey as an indicator of how important this relationship is and will do whatever they can to prevent it from being disrupted.”

Eighty-six percent of survey respondents said they’d be either “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” that doctors may stop treating Medicare patients because of this cut. In addition, 85 percent said they’d have trouble finding a new doctor that would take Medicare should the looming cut take effect.

Physician payment has been an ongoing issue facing seniors and the doctors who care for them. More than 10 years ago, Congress created a flawed system to pay doctors who treat Medicare patients. Because lawmakers have been unable to fix this system, Medicare can no longer pay doctors what it costs to care for seniors. Now, unless Congress acts by January 1, the scheduled 25 percent cut will take place, which could result in many seniors losing their doctors or having trouble finding a new one.

“Maine’s seniors count on the security and peace of mind they get from seeing the doctor they trust,” Kelleher added. “We urge our Senators to stop this cut and work to provide doctors with a stable payment system so they’ll continue to treat Medicare patients.

The survey also found that 82 percent of AARP members would be more favorable of their Senators if they worked to preserve access to physicians by protecting Medicare payments to doctors.

Finally, in response to some lawmakers who proposed to stop the cut for three months, 68 percent of AARP members said they would prefer a long-term solution. AARP is urging Congress to stop cut now for one year while the new Congress works towards a permanent solution that will give seniors the peace of mind that they can keep seeing their doctors.

Find more information on the survey online.

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