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ACP-ASIM Urges Senate to Revisit Medicare Reform

August 1, 2002

Congress Urged to Pass Comprehensive Reforms to Preserve Access to Medical Care

(Washington, DC) The Senate's failure to pass a prescription drug bill and other necessary Medicare reforms is deeply disappointing, according to Sara Walker, MD, MACP, president of the American College of Physicians - American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM).

"As physicians, we are deeply distressed that Medicare beneficiaries must continue to wait for a viable prescription drug benefit and other necessary updates to the Medicare program, " said Dr. Walker. "Congress must not compound the failure to provide prescription drug benefits with the failure to preserve Medicare patients' existing access to medical care."

Dissention within Congress on adding a prescription drug benefit should not derail other reforms that are essential to preserving access to care for Medicare patients. Congressionally-mandated physician reimbursement formulas have led to deep cuts that are forcing many physicians to stop seeing new Medicare patients or drop out of the program as a "participating" provider. This results in reduced access to physicians and higher out-of-pocket expenses for patients.

"Easy access to physicians is becoming a thing of the past in some communities, as Medicare's reimbursements to doctors drop below the cost of providing care," said Dr Walker. "The situation will deteriorate further next year when a second round of provider reimbursement cuts are scheduled to take effect. At minimum, Congress must reverse these cuts this year to preserve basic patient care."

ACP-ASIM urges the Senate to pass comprehensive Medicare reforms that:

  • establishes an affordable, sustainable prescription drug benefit targeted toward the lowest-income beneficiaries;
  • reverses Medicare physician reimbursement cuts that will total nearly 20 percent between 2001 and 2005; and
  • provides meaningful regulatory relief from overburdened health care providers.

"The Senate must also look closely at reforming the overarching regulatory burden imposed by Medicare," said Dr. Walker. "Complying with 100,000 pages of bureaucratic regulations is draining enormous resources from health care providers. These resources are better spent serving Medicare's beneficiaries."

The American College of Physicians- American Society of Internal Medicine is the largest medical specialty society and the second largest medical organization in the nation. Membership encompasses more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students.

Contact:

Jennifer Whalen, Washington Office, (202) 261-4575

Page updated: 11-03-03

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