Here is an important message from my colleagues at AARP… ~ldw

Please contact Senator Lisa Murkowski and ask her to support Senate Bill 1776.

As you may recall, for the past seven years physicians who see Medicare beneficiaries have faced proposed reductions in their payments each January. Seven times in the last seven years, Congress has passed legislation to override the proposed cuts. This has been a frustrating annual experience for Alaska’s physicians as well as Medicare beneficiaries, those over age 65 as well as younger people with disabilities who are on the Medicare program.

In January, 2010 physicians face an unprecedented 21.5% cut in their Medicare payments with additional cuts in future years. A bill was introduced on Wednesday evening, S.1776, which would repeal this proposed cut as well as the other proposed cuts for the next 10 years. It is expected that the US Senate could vote on this next week, possibly as early as Tuesday.

AARP, in collaboration with the AMA, is strongly supporting S.1776.

We have established a toll-free line that will take you directly into Senator Murkowski’s office:

1-800-335-6946

Senator Begich has already signed on as one of the first co-sponsors of S. 1776.

(You can also use the 800 number to call his office and thank him for his support.)

Unfortunately, this will not guarantee to fix our problem with Medicare beneficiaries’ access to physicians in Alaska. Our delegation is still working on that issue. Passage of S. 1776 will, however, not make the situation worse by cutting payments to physicians by 21.5% in January.

We hope you will make a call to Senator Murkowski and let her know how important it is for her to support this bill. She has a long history of working to expand access to physicians for Alaska’s Medicare beneficiaries and we hope she will continue that campaign by supporting S. 1776.

The primary argument against S.1776 is that the funding is “off-budget.” (Funding for many issues and programs Congress decides are important, for example, the entire Iraq war for the past 8 years, are also “off-budget.”) AARP believes that the old artificial budget baseline for Medicare physician spending, which Congress has had to override each of the past 7 years, is inappropriate from both a policy and service delivery perspective. This is neither a responsible budget policy and only increases the size of future cuts as well as the cost of subsequent interventions. The current formula threatens additional access to care just as the first baby boomers begin to enter Medicare in 2011. Without S.1776 the situation, especially here in Alaska, will only get worse as seniors lose their ability to choose a physician or to even find one who will accept them.

This issue also impacts Alaska’s military families enrolled in the TRICARE program.

Thank you for you help with this issue.

If you prefer to call her local offices, Senator Murkowski can be reached at:

Fairbanks: 456-0233

Ketchikan: 225-6880

Wasilla: 376-7665

Kenai: 283-5808

Anchorage: 271-3735

About ACPP_archive

formerly Alaska Center for Public Policy

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