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Tennessee AARP members overwhelmingly want long-term fix to Medicare physician payment problem

 

AARPAcross party lines, Tennessee AARP members are united in their worry that they’ll lose access to their doctors unless Congress finds a long-term solution to problems with the Medicare physician reimbursement system, according to a new survey.

On Tuesday, congressional leaders were trying to reach a last-minute deal that would postpone a 25-percent pay cut for Medicare doctors set for January 1st. The proposal would delay the cut for about a year, which could give the incoming Congress some time to find a permanent solution to the flawed payment formula for Medicare that has been in place more than a decade.

Eighty percent of survey respondents said they are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” that doctors may stop treating Medicare patients if the pay cut isn’t averted. That included 88 percent of respondents who described themselves as Republicans, 76 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of independents, according to the survey conducted by Woelfel Research.

Eighty percent of respondents covered by Medicare were concerned about finding a new doctor if their physician stopped seeing Medicare patients. Seventy-two percent of respondents said a long-term solution is needed.

“We constantly hear from seniors that, after their children and grandchildren, the person they trust most is their doctor,” said AARP Tennessee State Director Rebecca Kelly. “That’s why hundreds of Tennesseans have called and written Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, and their congressional representatives, urging them to act.”

That’s also why AARP in Tennessee teamed up with the Tennessee Medical Association and dozens of other organizations in a “Stop the Medicare Meltdown” alliance.

“The biggest impact is going to be on primary care,” said TMA President Dr. B W. Ruffner, Jr. “Primary care physicians have got more patients than they can handle right now, so if these cuts go through, they’re going to be very reluctant to take new Medicare patients.”

One in three primary care offices and one in five specialists say they will have to stop taking new Medicare patients if nothing is done.

Congress must act before the end of the year to prevent the cuts from taking place. AARP and the TMA are urging Tennesseans to call 1-800-944-6723 and to sign the Medicare Meltdown petition at www.tnmed.org/meltdown today to make sure that their Congressional representatives know how they feel about this issue and the need to find a long-term solution.

Some 800 AARP members in Tennessee age 60 and older were surveyed between November 22nd and November 28th by Woelfel Research, an independent research firm. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

About The Tennessee Medical Association

Tennessee Medical Association The Tennessee Medical Association is the state’s largest physician organization. We improve the effectiveness of doctors to protect the health interests of patients. By bringing doctors together, we are leading Tennessee to a better state of health. tnmed.org

About AARP

AARPAARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan social welfare organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates.

We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world’s largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP’s millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org.

AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

For more information about AARP Tennessee, visit www.aarp.org/tn, www.facebook.com/aarptennessee and www.twitter.com/aarptn.


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