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Ms. HAYWORTH. I thank the gentleman so much for holding this Special Order session, which is so important.
One thing, the comments by my distinguished colleagues have been perceptive and enlightening and moving. There is one aspect I might be able to add, although they have said so much.
I would like to invite our seniors and those who love them and who may accompany them in the course of their care, as I have had the privilege of doing for my own parents, both of whom have relied on Medicare for many years, to talk with their doctors about what it means when Medicare changes the way it deals with the doctors' practices and what it will mean for our seniors in their having the ability to be cared for by the doctors they prefer and in the places where they are comfortable and that are familiar and that they like and trust as well as what may happen if Medicare loses the funds that now exist in the trust fund, which are running out very, very rapidly.
I think it's important for patients and doctors throughout the United States to have that conversation and for our doctors to hear their patients' perspectives and for patients to hear from their doctors how tough it may be for a lot of doctors' practices to keep their doors open if Medicare loses the funds that it needs and if that's accelerated through the Affordable Care Act, which does, as we've mentioned many times but is so important to say, take an enormous piece of crucial funding away from Medicare. We can't afford that. A half a trillion dollars is an enormous amount of money. So there are lots of threats looming on the horizon for our doctors' practices.
I had the privilege of practicing ophthalmology in Mount Kisco, New York, for 16 years. I took care of Medicare patients and I cherished them. It was a privilege, as you mentioned, Dr. Fleming, to care for those patients, so many of whom have done so much for our country and for our communities. Yet I can attest to the fact that it can be very difficult to keep your doors open when Medicare keeps ratcheting down what it will pay for certain services even in the face of the fact that doctors have rent to pay and staff to pay and that they have insurance, including malpractice insurance, which can be very expensive in a State like my own home State of New York.
It can become very, very difficult to balance all of those things, and that's why it's so important to make sure that Medicare has the funds it needs
and that we protect Medicare for the future in the way that we handle its premium structure. Premium support will be a great help to us, but those are the things that we need to hear about from our patients and our doctors. So I would like to urge everybody to talk with your doctors, to find out the stories, to find out what they want to tell you so that the patients and doctors can take that message home to their Members of Congress, to their Senators and to the President.
I thank you, Dr. Fleming, for all you're doing to support a wonderful cause.
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