Physicians, Patients Launch Medicare Petition Drive to Congress Apr 6. 2010 | Comments (5)
Medicare, the foundation of America’s health system, is crumbling and needs permanent repair, Texas physicians told Congress today.
Texas Medical Association (TMA) physician leaders across Texas unveiled their open letter to Congress and launched a petition drive. The petition urges Congress to fix the flawed payment formula that threatens care for Texas’ 2.5 million Medicare recipients, including senior citizens and people with disabilities, and 850,000 military family members covered by TriCare.
Doctors and patients united at seven locations across Texas on Monday with pens and purpose —to stop the Medicare Meltdown. TMA will deliver the petitions and letters to Congress in Washington, D.C.
“For a Medicare patient, a doctor can mean everything: independence, hope, and security,” said TMA President William H. Fleming III, MD, at Monday’s Houston patient/physician gathering. “But Medicare patients are feeling anything but secure about the future of their health care. Every year for a decade, physicians and other providers have faced steep Medicare cuts that jeopardize our ability to care for our patients.”
Each year Congress slaps a temporary Band-Aid on the problem, postponing a steep cut to a later date. The most recent cut, 21.2 percent, went into effect on April Fools’ Day, and Congress is expected to place another temporary patch on the problem when it reconvenes next week. It would be the third patch this year alone. “This ongoing uncertainty hurts patients and their doctors. Patients need to know their doctor will be there when they need them,” added Dr. Fleming.
“We need more than Band-Aids,” Dr. Fleming said in TMA’s open letter to Congress. “We need more than sutures. We need a complete transplant. This is all about Medicare patients’ access to physicians’ care. Congress created this problem, and only Congress can fix it.” He noted that he and other physicians desperately want to continue to take care of their Medicare patients — that’s why they became doctors.
“Our goal is to gather 1 million signatures and share them with Congress and the president,” said Dr. Fleming. “Medicare patient access to care is in jeopardy across Texas and America, and we must send a clear message to our leaders how urgently we need them to step up and stop the Medicare Meltdown now.”
“Our seniors, patients with disabilities, and military families deserve better than the on-again/off-again health plan Medicare has become,” Susan R. Bailey, MD, TMA’s president-elect, said at the event in Fort Worth. “The only acceptable solution is for Congress to repeal the flawed Medicare formula and replace it with a stable, fair funding mechanism that reflects the true cost of providing care.”
Doctors say their Medicare patients routinely ask them if they know of other physicians — both specialists and primary care — who will see and care for them. Finding doctors to care for new Medicare patients is a constant struggle, they say.
TMA doctors invite patients across Texas to join the grassroots effort to save Medicare by signing the online petition. The petition drive is asking Congress to stop the Medicare meltdown so patients can choose their doctors and their doctors can stay in the program.
A link to an easy-to-complete online petition is at www.MeAndMyDoctor.com.
Congress just passed major health system reform legislation without solving the Medicare problem. “That is like building a house on a shaky foundation. We must tell Congress to continue its work, and fix the crumbling foundation of our health care system,” added Dr. Bailey. “Throughout the health system reform discussion, we asked Congress to ‘keep what’s good in our health care system and fix only what’s wrong.’ This Medicare problem is one of the biggest examples of what is still wrong.”