The U.S. Congress must take immediate and definitive action to preserve access to physician services for our nation’s seniors, disabled, and military families.
For more than a year, Congress has debated and advanced health care reform proposals that would expand access to affordable health coverage, transform our delivery system to promote quality and efficiency, increase access to physicians—specifically primary care physicians—and lower the costs of health care. Last month, with the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Congress delivered on these and other issues. However, we are both concerned and confused as to why Congress failed to act upon one element of health care reform that is widely acknowledged to be an enormous problem and has an identified solution. Reform of the Medicare physician payment formula is health care reform and is sound economic policy. It preserves access to health care for millions of our nation’s seniors, the disabled and military families. Additionally, long-term reforms are essential to saving millions of jobs in the health care sector, advancing quality improvement, and achieving our shared goals of transforming our health care system through health information technology.
The pending departure of physicians from the Medicare program not only limits access to care for seniors, the disabled and military families, but also undermines several reform efforts enacted by Congress that are currently underway—electronic prescribing, electronic health records, and quality improvement among them. In recent years, Congress has invested billions of dollars to transform our nation’s health care delivery system. We are concerned that the failure to address the underlying payment policy does not just undermine these initiatives—it essentially guarantees their failure.
Patients of all ages and their physicians are depending upon you to take the necessary steps to enact the one health care reform that never should have been left unresolved—reform of the Medicare physician payment formula.