AAFP Statement: Short-Term Medicare Payment Patch Fails to Meet Americans’ Needs

Friday, December 23, 2011

Statement Attributable to:
Glen Stream, MD, MBI
American Academy of Family Physicians

“Eleventh-hour legislation that fails to meet the needs of constituents is no way to conduct the nation’s business. That is particularly true when millions of Americans’ health and welfare are at stake. But last-minute, inadequate legislation is exactly what Congress has done with passage of an absurdly short reprieve from the 27.4 percent cut in physician payment mandated by the deeply flawed sustainable growth rate formula for Medicare.

“Americans are tired of short-term, insufficient answers to long-standing problems. Americans want a permanent solution. They want Congress to look beyond the next few months or the next year. They want health security. Instead, they got a bitter holiday gift — an extra 60 days before health insecurity again sets in.

“It’s now time for Congress to put aside partisan interests, repeal the SGR and put a sustainable payment system in place that helps rebalance the primary care physician workforce with a 3 percent payment differential. It’s time to establish health security for elderly and disabled patients as well as the military families who depend on TRICARE. It’s time to follow through on previous commitments to permanently end this annual — and if history is an example, sometimes monthly — ordeal of temporary patches that drive up the ultimate cost of a meaningful, sustainable solution.”

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Stream, contact Leslie Champlin, 800-274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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