On March 2 President Obama signed H.R. 4691, the “Temporary Extension Act of 2010” into law, postponing the 21.2% reduction in Medicare physician payments until April 1. Unfortunately, rather than establishing a pathway for a repeal of the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, the Senate is, once again, considering a short-term, 7-month extension through the end of September as part of the Baucus Substitute to the House-passed version of H.R. 4213, the American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010.
The American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgeons (ASCRS), Dr. Jonathan Frantz, and the entire medical community have reiterated opposition to any further short-term “fixes” and are urging the Congress, and in particular the Senate, to permanently repeal the SGR formula. Access to care for millions of patients, especially our nation’s seniors and military families, is at immediate risk because of the flawed Medicare physician payment formula. Physicians are the foundation of the health care delivery system and Congress must enact permanent reform, no more short-term solutions.
Below is a letter that the surgical coalition of ASCRS developed for patients to send to their members of Congress demanding action on this important issue. Feel free to copy and paste it in a letter to your Representative or Senator:
Representative or Senator ______________
_________House/or Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20515(House), 20510 (Senate)
Attn: Health Legislative Assistant
Re: Medicare Access to Specialty Physicians and Surgeons.
Dear Representative/Senator _______________:
My doctor has always been there to take care of me. I am worried about my doctor’s ability to continue to accept my Medicare insurance.
Over the past few years, increased pressures on the Medicare program have made it difficult for many doctors to continue to accept Medicare, and I am concerned that my doctors may have to quit the program or limit the number of Medicare patients they see.
On top of that, costs for doctors to provide service to me have continued to rise. Any expansion of coverage or reform of the health care system that doesn’t first address problems in the existing system is doomed to fail. Please find a way to replace the flawed formula that determines Medicare reimbursements with one that is fully paid for without borrowing from future Medicare payments or benefits, that is sustainable long-term, and that more closely reflects the actual increased costs of meeting the health needs of patients like me.
Please make stabilization of Medicare a top priority. I want to know that my doctor will be there when I need one. Please keep my doctor in Medicare. Thank you for taking care of an issue vital to all Americans.