Physicians and the Military Plea to Congress to Protect Military Health Care

This Veterans Day, with Medicare and TRICARE physician payment cuts of 25% looming, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) are calling on Congress to act immediately to protect health care for America’s military families and seniors. The organizations are asking lawmakers to take action to prevent a crisis in access to care for military families. Without congressional action, the scheduled cut will begin on Dec. 1 with a 23% reduction in TRICARE and Medicare physician payments. Current law also requires another 2.5% cut on Jan. 1.

“The clock is ticking,” Cecil B. Wilson, MD, AMA president stated, in a press release. “Without swift action to stop the cut, in 3 weeks America’s military families will face reduced access to health care. The brave men and women who serve our country deserve better. To honor our military families on Veterans Day, Congress must act to prevent these damaging cuts.”

Because TRICARE ties its physician payment rates to Medicare, the scheduled 25% Medicare cut will automatically impact the nearly 10 million military families who rely on TRICARE for their health care needs.

“This payment cut is the number one threat to military beneficiaries’ health care access,” Norb Ryan Jr., USN-Ret, MOAA president vice admiral, stated. “The last thing our deployed service members should have to worry about is whether their sick spouse or child will be denied an appointment by their doctor.”

The ongoing threat of cuts is already having an impact on patients. Because of low payment rates and the threat of future cuts, physicians are forced to make difficult decisions about the number of TRICARE and Medicare patients they can see in their practice.

“Physicians want to continue seeing their TRICARE and Medicare patients,” Wilson stated. “Congress must reverse this cut to stabilize the TRICARE and Medicare systems. It is imperative that patients and physicians make their voices heard on this critical issue.”

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