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Senate votes to stop Medicare physician payment cuts

At last, the Senate did the right thing in voting to support physicians and patient access to medical care (see the statement from the AMA below and links for additional information).  In the end, the exclusive Republican minority voting against this, clearly showed they wish to side with big insurance over the vitality of America’s physicians. Compliments to the Republicans who rose to the occasion and voted in favor of this. While it might appear that the Democrats carried the day here, we need to remember that in large measure the Democratic majority precipitated this entire series of events by refusing to unlink Medicare physician pay rates from issues regarding payments to Medicare Advantage health plans. We would all like to think that Congress could act for the public good and leave partisan politics by the wayside as the drive for Real Health Reform moves forward . . . jomaxx


The AMA celebrates Wednesday’s action by the U.S. Senate to pass the “Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008” (H.R. 6331) by a veto-proof majority of 69-30. The AMA especially appreciates the heroic efforts of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who made this critical vote his first after his surgery in early June. Eighteen Republican senators joined Senate Democrats to make this a truly bipartisan process.

The legislation would replace a 10.6 percent cut in Medicare physician payments that took effect July 1 with a 0.5 percent update extension through Dec. 31 and provide a 1.1 percent update for 2009. The U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 6331 two weeks ago by an overwhelming, veto-proof majority of 355-59.

Now the AMA calls on President George W. Bush to sign H.R. 6331 to protect access to health care for seniors, the disabled and military families.

“We urge President Bush to hear and heed the voices of seniors, the disabled and military families—and sign the bill into law for the health of America,” AMA President-elect J. James Rohack, MD, said.

See link below for statement Attributable to: J. James Rohack, M.D., President-elect, American Medical Association – http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/18772.html

See how the US Senate voted on this measure: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 110th Congress – 2nd Session as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate – http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=110&session=2&vote=00169

Doctors Vent Their Discontent


The article below sums up in large measure the plight of physicians, and indirectly all of us, with the current health care system.  Real reform is needed sooner rather than later and real change, not just talk, needs to occur.  A great physician shortage is looming which will only add to the problems discussed in this essay unless a variety of measures are used to alter events.  Streamlining of regulations, paperwork, health information access and doctor patient interaction are all required.  Yet, the focus for our elected leadership is preservation of the sacred cow, the health insurance industry at all costs . . . jomaxx
June 17, 2008 NY Times ESSAY
Eyes Bloodshot, Doctors Vent Their Discontent By SANDEEP JAUHAR, M.D.


Doctors Press Senate to Undo Medicare Cuts

Congress is under fire for failing to fix the Medicare payment mess.  Both parties are at fault. Democrats for linking physician pay changes to Medicare Advantage funding and Republicans for favoring insurance interests over physicians.  In the end though, the Democratic controlled Congress bears the most blame for being unwilling to address the entire SGR (sustainable growth rate) issue related to physician payments for Medicare.  Just one more example of the ineptitude, political posturing and gamesmanship at work in Congress.  They are NOT interested in doing the people’s business, just protecting their own . . . jomaxx

Congress returns to work this week with Medicare high on the agenda and Senate Republicans under pressure after a barrage of radio and television advertisements blamed them for a 10.6 percent cut in payments to doctors who care for millions of older Americans . . . see link for full article


Once again, our Congress, in this case the Senate, has shown their inability to to divorce themselves from the powerful insurance lobby by refusing to delay a 10%+ cut in Medicare payments for physicians which went into effect July 1st – the pay rates are actually lower than they were in the early 1990’s despite the increased costs of running a medical practice. The time for inaction, political posturing and gamesmanship in Washington is at an end. Congress either needs to act correctly or the public must look for new leaders when they go to the polls in the fall elections . . . jomaxx

Senate inaction on Medicare cuts generates anger from physicians and the AMA

Reflecting physicians’ frustration with a group of senators that blocked action last week on legislation that would stop harsh Medicare physician payment cuts, the AMA began airing new TV and radio ads on Tuesday urging opponents of the “Medicare Improvements to Patients and Providers Act” (H.R. 6331) to put patients’ access to care before insurance profits. The ads will run initially in Mississippi, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming through this week’s congressional recess.

The ads open with a reference to Independence Day, then say: “There’s no celebrating for the millions of Medicare patients—seniors, the disabled and military families—who will lose their access to health care. A group of U.S. senators voted to protect the powerful insurance companies’ huge profits at the expense of Medicare patients’ access to doctors.”

“The AMA is activating a full-court press—both advertising and grassroots—in the states during the Independence Day recess,” said Dr. Nielsen. “Over the month of June more than 41,000 calls by patients and physicians have been made to Congress urging action through the AMA’s grassroots hotline alone. Physicians and patients will be holding their senators’ feet to the fire.”

AMA ad against Medicare reductions

View a news release about the new AMA ads and visit the Web site to watch the ads.


The AMA is supporting access to coverage for America’s uninsured.  While this article (see link below) suggests that new AMA President Dr. Nielsen’s background as chief medical officer at a health plan will make her more understanding of issues insurers face, it remains clear to this observer that health insurance companies remain the largest obstacle to real health reform . . . jomaxx

New AMA president vows to make uninsured Americans a priority.

In a report from the Chicago Tribune (6/22, Japsen) reported that Nancy Nielsen, M.D., Ph.D., new president of the AMA, vowed at the annual meeting last week in Chicago to use the power of her presidency and clout of the AMA to advocate for nation’s uninsured. Dr. Nielsen will need to call on her past experiences in a year in which doctors will be fighting with health plans, drug companies, employers, and others for a seat at the table when healthcare reform is debated. Because of that background, many physicians feel she will have a less adversarial relationship with the health insurance industry than her predecessors. Some believe that her work as chief medical officer at a health plan gives her an understanding of how health plans rate doctors on quality measures, and patient safety initiatives. Dr. Nielsen endorses use of report cards by health insurance companies, but wants physicians involved in what is rated.





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