AAFP Statement: Select Committee on Deficit Reduction Fails to End Health Insecurity for Elderly, Disabled

Supercommittee Fails to Meet $1.5 Trillion in Budget Cuts, AAFP Dismayed and Continues Its Call for Stable Payments to Physicians and a Positive Primary Care Differential

Monday, November 21, 2011

Statement attributable to:
Glen R. Stream, MD, MBI, FAAFP
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has dropped the ball by failing to agree on federal budget cuts demanded by the Budget Reduction Act of 2011.

“In doing so, they have also condemned millions of elderly and disabled Americans to continued health insecurity. Their inaction allows the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) that determines Medicare physician payment to continue in effect. It paves the way for a 27.4 percent reduction in Medicare physician payment to take effect on Jan. 1, 2012, if Congress does not act on a separate bill. Worse, it triggers a mandatory, additional 2 percent reduction in 2013.

“Congress must act swiftly to prevent the pending 27.4 percent cut. It must repeal the SGR formula, stabilize Medicare payment with a five-year Medicare payment schedule, and implement a payment system that values quality of care over quantity of care. Without a comprehensive approach, Congress merely continues a cycle of threats to physician practices’ financial viability, last-minute reprieves, and continued procrastination.

“This is no way to address the federal budget deficit. Nor is it the way to serve their constituents. Allowing the Medicare physician payment issue to fester worsens the health insecurity of millions of elderly patients and military families.

“At some point, Congress must face up to its responsibility to its constituents. That time is now.”

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Stream, contact Amanda Holt, 800-274-2237, ext. 5223, or aholt@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).