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ACP’s ‘In Their Own Words’ Campaign

In an effort to increase the pressure on Congress to halt the Medicare payment cuts, we need short, personal stories from physicians about the impact of the cuts to compile and format into eye-catching testimonials for each state. Because the original ‘In Their Own Words’ campaign last November was such a success, we are doing it again with a renewed focus on the primary care workforce crisis. ACP leaders will deliver your stories to members of Congress during a special “In Their Own Words” Day on Capitol Hill during the week of September 11. The goal of this campaign is to convey to Congress the real and personal impact of the Medicare cuts on their constituents---both the doctors and their patients who are Medicare beneficiaries. Crucial decisions will be made on Medicare in the few weeks before Congress adjourns in early October for mid-term elections.

Please submit your “story” by Thursday, September 7th and forward this request to any individual physician or other networks (e.g., others in your practice) that you can easily email. Please contact Tracy Novak immediately at 800-338-2746 ext. 4532 if you need any assistance to make this happen. We want to include stories from the various perspectives of medical students, young physicians, practicing internists, internists nearing retirement, and others in between.

A few examples are below.

    As a primary care physician who has been in private practice for 13 years, I will be forced out of business without relief from Medicare cuts. The cost of medical care is high but it is not the doctors who are getting rich! My overhead has gone up an average of 10% over the last four years while my take home pay after expenses has decreased about $10,000 per year. We especially suffer in (city) where the cost of living and the cost of being in business is so high yet we get paid below the national average Medicare rate because the geographic modifies say we are a rural state. Dr X, city, state

    My group of 130 physicians pays $6.5 million in malpractice costs each year. This no longer is just a cost of doing business. Malpractice and the anticipated payment cuts under Medicare have forced us to reevaluate our entire practice in order to stay solvent. Our astronomical malpractice costs in the face of decreasing reimbursement under Medicare will cause us to close our doors to new Medicare patients in the community since we can no longer afford to care for these vulnerable seniors. Dr. X, city, state.

    As a professor of medical students, I see evidence that the cuts will reduce the number of medical students who decide to go into internal medicine. They will face serious economic challenges in the future as the health care system evolves to cope with the demographic and technological changes. They want a lifestyle commensurate with others in society who are required to undergo the kind and duration of education and training that it takes to be a physician. Cutting Medicare payments will give them a reasonable chance at feeling unrewarded, and their professionalism and idealism will suffer. Dr. X, University X, City, State.

Page updated: 08-24-06