Payment Cuts for Medicare Physicians are Bad News for Older Americans

On January 1, 2010, physicians face a minimum across-the-board cut of 21 percent in Medicare payments. This cut will grow to about 40 percent in cumulative cuts by 2016 unless Congress permanently reforms Medicare's physician payment system.

These cuts and low payments will limit older Americans' access to health care. How? Some doctors have said the cuts will force them to decrease or stop seeing new Medicare patients. Which means older people may be forced to travel further for needed medical care, or even go to emergency facilities instead of a doctor's office for basic care!

Furthermore, pay cuts may stop physicians from purchasing health information technology. The Medicare physician payment system needs to keep up with rising practice costs so that seniors can be assured of continued access to quality care.

Urge Congress not to settle for another temporary fix -- health system reform must include Medicare reform and we need a long-term solution now. America deserve nothing less!
Dear Congressmember [Name],

As someone who is concerned about the future of health care in our country, I am writing you today to voice my objection to Medicare doctor payment cuts.

Many doctors reported that more Medicare patients are now being treated in emergency rooms for conditions that could have been treated in a physician's office and that it has gotten harder to refer patients to certain medical and surgical specialists.

An AMA survey shows that drastic cuts in Medicare payments will make it harder for older Americans to see their doctor. For example:

- 60 percent of all doctors say a Medicare cut will force them to decrease or stop seeing new patients and to discontinue nursing home visits.
- A majority of doctors in rural communities say they will no longer be able to conduct important outreach services due to nine years of projected cuts.
- Nearly 3 out of 4 doctors say the Medicare cuts will force them to delay purchasing critical new medical equipment.
- 65 percent of doctors say the Medicare cuts will force them to delay purchase of new health care technology.

[Your comments will be inserted here]

Please do not cut Medicare doctor payments. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
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