Today, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced legislation to ensure Michigan seniors, persons with disabilities and members of the Uniformed Services and their families continue to have access to their doctors and other health professionals. The Protecting Seniors' Access to Doctors Act will prevent a 23% cut in Medicare and TRICARE payments to physicians from going into effect November 30. If this cut takes place, many physicians who see Medicare patients will have to stop seeing those patients, and many others may have to close their doors entirely. Preventing this cut is critical to protecting access to doctors for our seniors, members of the armed forces, and military families. Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"Michigan seniors, military families, and people with disabilities should be able to keep seeing their doctors for the care they need," said Senator Stabenow. "My legislation will prevent a drastic cut to Medicare and TRICARE providers , so doctors won't be forced to close their doors."
"Congress must act swiftly to ensure that seniors have access to the same doctors that they do today, and that doctors are fairly reimbursed for the services they provide. I have long supported a permanent fix to the flawed sustainable growth rate, like the one the House of Representatives passed last year," said Energy and Commerce Chairman Emeritus John D. Dingell (D-MI). "This 13 month extension is far from ideal, but it will give our seniors and physicians the peace of mind they need while Congress works on a permanent solution to this long standing problem."
The 23% cut is scheduled to take effect November 30, due to the flawed "Sustainable Growth Rate" payment system for physicians. The formula is complicated and does not reflect the reality of treatment costs. In fact, the formula has led to scheduled physician payment cuts for nine years in a row.
Senator Stabenow has also introduced legislation the Medicare Physician Fairness Act (S.1776) to permanently eliminate the flawed system.