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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

CRITICAL MEDICARE VOTES LOOM ON S 1776; CONTACT SENATORS CORNYN AND HUTCHISON

All TMA leaders need to make a pair of phone calls or send a pair of e-mails to Washington today. And then you need to ask your colleagues to do the same. Vote “YES” on S 1776 is the message that Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) need to hear from their constituents. The bill would repeal the unsustainable sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula (PDF) that drives down physicians’ Medicare payments year after year. It also would stop the planned 21-percent cut in fees scheduled for Jan. 1, eliminate the $245 billion debt (PDF) that has accumulated under the SGR, and lay the foundation for a new Medicare payment update system. The bill basically zeroes out the SGR formula. Under this bill, physicians over the next decade are getting a zero percent update, but it is the first step in the process of working to get a fair payment system. Until we can eliminate the SGR, we have no hope of getting a positive update system. One or more of the votes on S 1776 – including the decision to waive the constraints of the budget act – will require the votes of at least 60 senators. “Conventional pundits think it won't happen,” American Medical Association President Jim Rohack, MD, wrote in his latest blog entry. “But if that was the spirit of the American physician, then mortality rates for acute myocardial infarctions would still be 40 percent rather than 3 percent, and polio would still be managed with iron lungs rather than vaccines.” Use the TMA Grassroots Action Center for an easy way to e-mail Senators Cornyn and Hutchison, or call the AMA grassroots hotline at (800) 833-6354.

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