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NUMBER OF PHYSICIANS TURNING AWAY NEW MEDICARE PATIENTS JUMPS 28 PERCENT
Health Care for Thousands of Seniors at Risk
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224
The annual survey of its members by the American Academy of Family Physicians finds that 21.7 percent of physicians surveyed in June, 2002, report that they can no longer take new Medicare patients, a significant increase from last year’s figure of 17 percent. The survey was administered to a random selection of 4,400 AAFP members who are active in patient care, and includes data from 1,664 respondents.
“For America’s seniors, this is a massive health care crisis in the making,” said Warren Jones, M.D., AAFP President. “I’ve talked to many physicians who tell me that this year’s Medicare payment cuts mean that they just can’t afford to keep their doors open and take more Medicare patients. When Medicare reimbursements do not cover the cost of the health care services that seniors need, patients and doctors suffer.”
"My practice has been forced to quit taking new Medicare patients because the costs associated with treating them are increasing while our reimbursement continues to go down," said Deborah G. Haynes, M.D., a family physician in Wichita, Kansas. "It's sad because these are the patients who need us the most."
The formula used to calculate the Medicare physician fee schedule updates is seriously flawed, resulting in a 5.4 percent reduction in the reimbursement rate for physicians and other health providers in January, 2002. The AAFP has urged Congress to repeal the formula. The AAFP has also called upon the Bush Administration to make the administrative changes the law gives them the authority to make, to ensure that no senior goes without the health care he or she needs.
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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 110,600 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.
Approximately one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is 240 million office visits each year — nearly 87 million more than the next largest medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.
To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.FamilyDoctor.org.
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