1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9
Tucson, AZ 85716-3450
Phone: (800) 635-1196
Hotline: (800) 419-4777
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.
A Voice for Private Physicians Since 1943
Omnia pro aegroto

December 16, 2005

 

ACTION NEEDED TODAY!

TELL CONGRESS: “IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MEDICARE MONEY; IT’S ABOUT FREEDOM”

 

The AMA is running a full-out campaign to stop cuts in Medicare payments to physicians that will take effect in January of 2006, and replace them with changes to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) that will instead increase the rates by a few percentage points.

 

We say, “KEEP YOUR MONEY – GIVE US FREEDOM INSTEAD!”

 

And so we are opposing these bills, and instead supporting Dr. Ron Paul’s (R-TX) bill to allow UNRESTRICTED PRIVATE CONTRACTING FOR MEDICARE PATIENTS.  This bill is H.R. 580, the “Seniors’ Freedom to Contract Act of 2005.”

 

The AMA- supported bills could be attached to budget bills in the House and Senate before they recess this for Christmas break – probably before Monday.  So you need to act NOW!

 

Call the Congressional switchboard, or send an email through the AAPS website today.

 

SWITCHBOARD:                                    (202) 224-3121

EMAIL LINK & more information:          http://www.aapsonline.org/alerts/links-12-16-05.php

 

·   Tell them you oppose various bills playing with the Sustainable Growth Rates (SGR), such as H.R. 3617, H.R. 2356, H.R. 1162 and S. 1574.   Instead of changing the SGR, you support H.R. 580, the Seniors’ Health Care Freedom Act of 2005” that would allow the use of private contracts under the Medicare program.  This is a win for patients, doctors and taxpayers as well. 

 

·   Our survey shows that 63% of doctors would be more willing to treat Medicare patients if unrestricted private contracts were allowed.

 

·   Also, that you oppose any mandatory “Pay for Performance” provisions that would tie Medicare payment to physician compliance with government practice guidelines.  This would be a radical break from Section 1801 of the Social Security Act that prohibits federal officials from interfering in the practice of medicine.

 

BACKGROUND

The AMA says that its survey shows that 38% of its members will cut the number of new Medicare patients they accept if the first round of cuts goes into effect in 2006.

 

But those numbers are extremely misleading because it’s not all about the money. 

 

Our surveys show many physicians ALREADY refuse new Medicare patients.  In fact, about 33%.  But even more alarming is that 40% already restrict the services they’ll perform to current Medicare patients. (Read Survey Summary)

 

But here’s what you need to know:  the reason they do so is NOT because of money. When asked, they say it’s the government “hassle factor.”  The two leading reasons given were “billing and regulatory requirements, and hassles and/or threats from Medicare carriers/government.”  Payments rates were down the list.

 

It’s not always “about the money” for doctors, and it’s too bad other groups are perpetuating that stereotyped image of “rich, greedy” doctors.  What doctors really need is freedom to practice medicine in the best interests of their patients.  That will truly serve our seniors and help preserve access to the best care. 

 

Otherwise, the best and the brightest will continue to leave the program.