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Don’t let Congress drive doctors out of Medicare

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Al Majkrzak
December 1, 2010

More than 900,000 Wisconsin residents are in danger of losing their doctors if Congress doesn’t act soon.


Why? More than 10 years ago, Congress created a flawed system called the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) to pay Medicare physicians. Because Congress has failed to fix it, Medicare cannot pay doctors what it costs to care for seniors.


If Congress fails to act by Jan. 1, 2011, doctors who treat Medicare patients will see their pay cut by 25 percent—and some might stop treating Medicare patients altogether, leaving seniors without the care they need.


In 2008, more than 606,000 residents were living in areas of our state that have shortages of primary care, and this will only get worse if Congress does not act now. Medicare funds are critical to the ability of doctors to treat patients and run a practice.


While this past election seemed to be about voter dissatisfaction with what’s happening in Washington, AARP surveyed our members and found something they agree on. AARP members, regardless of the party they belong to, want Congress to work together to stop this cut so seniors can continue to see the doctors they trust.


AARP believes seniors have earned their Medicare and the security of knowing they can keep seeing the doctors they count on. That’s why AARP opposes this cut and is fighting to prevent seniors from losing their doctors.


With time running out, AARP is calling on Congress to give seniors some stability by stopping the cut for one year, which should give ample time for the new Congress to put past differences aside and find a permanent solution that will protect seniors’ access to doctors for the long term.


What Congress needs to understand is that our members believe their elected officials have a responsibility to keep doctors in the Medicare program. Failing to act now means the cut to doctor pay will only grow larger, which could drive even more doctors out of Medicare—and leave seniors without the care they need.


We believe Congress has a responsibility to keep doctors in the Medicare program, and we’re doing our best to make sure they meet it. You can help by contacting your member of Congress and U.S. senator to tell them to keep doctors in Medicare.


Al Majkrzak is state president of AARP Wisconsin, phone 1-866-448-3611; website www.aarp.org/wi.

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