AAFP Statement: Congress, Stop Political Squabbling Over Medicare and Do Your Job

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Statement attributable to:
Lori Heim, MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The House and Senate are pulling the rug out from under millions of Americans who depend on Medicare and TRICARE for their health care coverage.

“This squabbling is intolerable. Political infighting over the Medicare physician payment fiasco has gone on far too long. It threatens access to care for elderly and disabled patients and for members of our armed services and their families. It seriously undermines physician confidence that Medicare will reliably pay for the services already rendered. It undercuts the foundation on which health care reform is to be built.

“For many rural and underserved communities, family physicians are the only health care professionals. They have operated on razor thin margins since Medicare payment stagnated nine years ago. The 21 percent pay cut that went into effect June 1 has pushed their Medicare compensation to levels they haven’t seen since 1994. Now these physicians — often the only source of health care in rural and underserved areas — face the possibility of cutting their staff, missing payroll, and limiting the number of Medicare and TRICARE patients they can accept.

“Congress must stop harming patients and act on legislation that retroactively restores the 21 percent Medicare payment cut with a formula that provides stability to the system. They must stop playing with the lives of constituents with the one-upmanship and political scorekeeping. They must pass legislation that ends these outrageous political games that puts the health and welfare of millions of Americans at risk.”

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

# # #

Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

To learn more about the AAFP and family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. Follow us on Twitter,(twitter.com) and like us on Facebook. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org(familydoctor.org).