Most Americans Concerned About Medicare Payment Cut

As medical groups urge Congress to stop a scheduled 25% Medicare physician payment cut, an American Medical Association poll shows that 94% of Americans think that the looming cut is a serious problem.

The results of the online poll of 1,000 Americans aged 18 years or older conducted in late October also revealed that 98% of respondents older than 65 years said that the anticipated drop in Medicare physician reimbursement was a “serious problem,” and 95% of seniors polled said that Congress should immediately act to fix this situation. In addition, 81% of the total respondents supported quick Congressional action.

“These compelling, striking poll results leave no room for misinterpretation,” American Medical Association (AMA) President Cecil B. Wilson, MD, said during a news conference at the group’s semi-annual meeting of physician leaders. “Congress should take its marching orders from the American public and fix this problem before leaving for the Thanksgiving break.”

Wilson said that the AMA hopes that the poll results will be eye-opening for elected officials and called for them to “stop playing politics and put the health care needs of America’s seniors first.”

The medical group is running a new ad about the cuts in USA Today and other publications in the Washington, D.C. area. The ad features groups who will be hurt by the cut including seniors, veterans and active duty military members and urges the public to contact members of Congress about the issue.

“Congress needs to put an end to this rollercoaster ride physicians and seniors have been on this year and stop the cut for at least 13 months,” he said. “This will shore up physician confidence in the program.”

He called Medicare an “unreliable payor” and highlighted a recent AMA poll which found that one in five physicians are limiting their care of Medicare patients due to low payment rates and the threat of future cuts.

Wilson also noted that the cut comes at a time when physicians can choose to opt-out of Medicare.

“Clearly, physicians are grappling with a difficult decision,” Wilson said. “Can they continue to take care of Medicare patients if Congress allows a 25% Medicare cut to go through? Congress needs to act by Thanksgiving so that seniors are not left paying the price for congressional inaction. The AMA is urging Congress to stop the cut for at least 13 months and then use that time to fix the problem once and for all. America’s seniors deserve nothing less.”

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