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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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited 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(familydoctor.org).