Statement of the State and Specialty Medical Societies on the Medicare Physician Payment Crisis

Failure by Congress to fulfill its responsibilities is undermining patient care in America. Three times this year, Congress has missed a deadline for dealing with Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, raising the specter of a 21 percent payment cut for physician services. The disruption and uncertainty for patients and physicians has made Medicare an unreliable program.

If Congress does not act this week, Medicare physician payments will be cut 21 percent. These cuts will also extend to the TRICARE program which serves military families, as well as some Medicaid programs, workers compensation programs and private insurance plans. The ripple effect of the 21 percent Medicare cut will be devastating to physician practices.

Congressional mismanagement of the Medicare program will force more physicians to stop accepting new Medicare and TRICARE patients; lay-off staff; and defer investment in new medical equipment, health information technology, and other innovations that improve patient care.

Patients and physicians should not become collateral damage in a Congressional stalemate on budgetary matters. We expect our elected officials to resolve the budget issues without punishing physicians, seniors and military families.

Past actions by Congress created the current budgetary challenge. Further, since 2003, Congress has compounded this problem by employing budget gimmicks that defer immediate cuts by stipulating deeper cuts in future years.

Democrats and Republicans agree that the flawed Medicare formula that is responsible for pending cuts should be repealed. The annual SGR battle diverts attention from more productive delivery and payment reform initiatives. We must move to a payment system that fosters innovation and rewards physician efforts to lower the rate of growth in Medicare spending across the existing silos in the program.

Medicare must adequately cover the cost of care and close an existing 20 percent gap as measured by the government’s own conservative measure of annual increases in medical practice costs.

We must also allow seniors who wish to contract directly for their care with a physician of their choice to do so without foregoing the Medicare benefits for which they paid during their working years. Medicare benefits were earned by and belong to Medicare beneficiaries. They must be allowed to assign these benefits as they see fit.

Playing brinksmanship with the health care of seniors and military families is inexcusable and represents a dereliction of duty. We urge Congress to honor its obligation to provide access to quality care to America’s seniors and military families by taking action to fix the Medicare physician formula problem now!

American Academy of Dermatology
American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Hospice & Palliative Medicine
American Academy of Neurology
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Academy of Pain Medicine
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
American Association for Hand Surgery
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologist
American Association of Clinical Urologist
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine
American Association of Public Health Physicians
American College of Cardiology
American College of Emergency Physicians
America College of Gastroenterology
American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists
American College of Occupational & Environmental Medicine
American College of Rheumatology
American College of Surgeons
American Gastroenterological Association
American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine
American Medical Association
American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society
American Society for Clinical Pathology
American Society for Reproductive Medicine
American Society for Surgery of the Hand
American Society of Addiction Medicine
American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery
American Society of Cytopathology
American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery
College of American Pathologists
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Heart Rhythm Society
North American Spine Society
Renal Physicians Association
Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons
Society of Nuclear Medicine
Medical Association of the State of Alabama
Alaska State Medical Association
Arizona Medical Association
Arkansas Medical Society
California Medical Association
Colorado Medical Society
Connecticut State Medical Society
Medical Society of Delaware
Medical Society of the District of Columbia
Florida Medical Association, Inc.
Medical Association of Georgia
Hawaii Medical Association
Idaho Medical Association
Illinois State Medical Society
Indiana State Medical Association
Iowa Medical Society
Kansas Medical Society
Kentucky Medical Association
Louisiana State Medical Society
Maine Medical Association
MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society
Massachusetts Medical Society
Michigan State Medical Society
Minnesota Medical Association
Mississippi State Medical Association
Missouri State Medical Association
Montana Medical Association
Nebraska Medical Association
Nevada State Medical Association
New Hampshire Medical Society
Medical Society of New Jersey
New Mexico Medical Society
Medical Society of the State of New York
North Carolina Medical Society
North Dakota Medical Association
Ohio State Medical Association
Oklahoma State Medical Association
Oregon Medical Association
Pennsylvania Medical Society
Rhode Island Medical Society
South Carolina Medical Association
South Dakota State Medical Association
Tennessee Medical Association
Texas Medical Association
Utah Medical Association
Vermont Medical Society
Medical Society of Virginia
Washington State Medical Association
West Virginia State Medical Association
Wisconsin Medical Society
Wyoming Medical Society

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About MSNJ

Founded in 1766, the Medical Society of New Jersey is the oldest professional society in the United States. The organization and its dues-paying members are dedicated to a healthy New Jersey, working to ensure the sanctity of the physician–patient relationship. In representing all medical disciplines, MSNJ advocates for the rights of patients and physicians alike, for the delivery of the highest quality medical care. This allows response to the patients’ individual, varied needs, in an ethical and compassionate environment, in order to create a healthy Garden State and healthy citizens.

3 responses to “Statement of the State and Specialty Medical Societies on the Medicare Physician Payment Crisis”

  1. Albert Tartini MD says :

    What do we do now?

  2. Walter Wynkoop, MD says :

    Please post a list of where each congressperson stands/or has voted on this issue. Please also list those that are up for re-election in the Fall and who is running against them if they are impedeing a fix to SGR. We have very little voice overall, but if we could as a nation of physicians influence the outcome of 3 or 4 races nationwide, that could make the difference in stopping this health destroying game our congressional leaders are playing.

  3. Lou Rondinella says :

    PLease! I am a 45 year old specialist in a solo practice who will not survive with this 21% cut. I will have to cut Medicare and 1 or 2 staff member to survive. this will be disasterous on the economy, jobs and care for the elderly.

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