Monday, December 18, 2017

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MEDICARE SGR ALERT: Physicians: Call Congress Now!

PROTECT ACCESS TO CARE IN CALIFORNIA


DON'T PATCH IT, REPEAL IT!

MEDICARE SGR REPEAL AND PAYMENT REFORM: HR 4015/S 2000

 

Physicians: Call Congress Now! (800) 833-6354 (Takes 2 Min)

UPDATE MARCH 11, 2014:
House Republican leaders have scheduled a vote for this week on H.R. 4015, with a repeal of the ACA individual mandate as the funding source. (If the mandate is repealed, the government will spend less on premium subsidies and thus, a substantial cost savings will occur.)

This repeal of the ACA is not an acceptable, viable funding option in the U.S. Senate. Knowing that the ACA repeal will not be accepted, House leaders have scheduled a second vote at the end of March to adopt another nine-month patch.

CMA is urging Congress to find bipartisan funding sources. We are opposing another nine-month patch. CMA is calling upon Congress to Fix Medicare Now!

A long-awaited and hard-fought bill to permanently repeal Medicare's fatally flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula finally is before Congress. The SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4015/S. 2000) offers a fiscally prudent opportunity for lawmakers to repeal the SGR formula and put Medicare on the path toward a stable, 21st-century program that can meet the growing health care needs of the nation's seniors.

This is the most progress Congress has made in a decade. We must seize this opportunity and make a final push to get this bill passed NOW. To sustain the bipartisan momentum, your Congressional representatives need to hear from you.

There are many powerful groups that are pushing back, objecting to Congress' plans for funding the physician payment fix. That's where you come in. To overcome the opposition, Congress needs to hear from a large volume of physicians. Every single physician needs to call and email the California Senators and your Member of Congress NOW!

Congress has a significant opportunity to finally repeal the SGR and enact payment reform. Why?

  • The cost to repeal the SGR is at an all-time low of $116 billion - down from $238 billion.
  • Congress has already spent $154 billion over the last decade adopting short-term patches to stop the SGR cuts - more than the total cost to repeal the SGR. It is fiscally irresponsible to adopt another one-year SGR patch. The Wall Street Journal calls the "patches" a sham.
  • There is a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on legislation to establish a new payment system.
  • The deadline is March 31, 2014, when the next 24 percent SGR cut occurs.

But reform won't happen unless Congress hears from thousands of physicians!

Physicians must call Congress to fix Medicare now!
To overcome the partisan funding proposals and the other opposition, Congress needs to hear from a large volume of physicians. Every physician needs to call and email the California Senators and your Member of Congress NOW! Please make as many calls and send as many emails as possible. Every one makes a difference! We are asking physicians to call/email the following individuals:

  • Your local congressional representative (use your local zip code)
  • California Senator Barbara Boxer
  • California Senator Dianne Feinstein
  • House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (zip code 93309)
  • House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (zip code 94103)

To contact members of Congress:
Call AMA's Grassroots Hotline, (800) 833-6354, to be connected with your members of Congress in Washington. You will be asked to enter your zip code and select your representative. You are also encouraged to call your representatives in their local district offices (click here to download a current telephone roster).

You may also email your federal legislators via the AMA's "Fix Medicare Now" grassroots website. Utilizing the sample letter provided, it takes no more than two minutes.

Urge Congress to tell their House and Senate leadership to:
1. Protect access to care in California and enact Medicare physician payment reform NOW.
2. The cost to fix the Medicare SGR is at an all-time low and there is bipartisan agreement on the legislation.
3. Use bipartisan funding sources.
4. Oppose another one-year SGR patch.

Ask your patients to help:
AMA has also prepared a flyer that you can use to get your patients involved in the fight to protect Medicare. Distribute the AMA's "Fix Medicare Now" flyer to your patients and ask them to call their representatives, too.

Additional information:


CALL TO ACTION: CONTACT CONGRESS AND URGE THEM TO PROTECT HEALTH CARE TODAY!

Congress has three weeks left to stop the 26.5 percent Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) physician payment cuts (to take effect on January 1, 2013) before they adjourn for the holidays. The Orange County Medical Association urges physicians to keep the pressure on Congress to stop these cuts.

Call AMA's Grassroots Hotline, (888) 434-6200, to be connected with your members of Congress.

Description

Members of Congress have returned to Washington, D.C. for a Lame Duck Session to address the so-called "fiscal cliff" issues affecting the future of medicine and our country. These issues must be addressed before January 1, 2013 or the following occurs:

  •  26.5 percent Medicare physician fee-for-service rate cut because of the SGR formula;
  • Across-the-board spending cuts known as "sequestration" - $109 billion/year. While Medicaid is exempt from the sequestration cuts, the Medicare program faces 2 percent cuts; Defense takes $500 million in cuts and the rest comes from domestic programs.
  • Expiration of the Bush 2001 and 2003 tax cuts (including individual rates, capital gains, dividends, child tax credit, marriage penalty reduction, and the estate tax).
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax patch expires.
  • The Social Security Payroll tax cut expires.
  • Unemployment benefits extension expires.

It is important that members of Congress work together in a bipartisan way to resolve these vital issues and avoid going over the "fiscal cliff." Most economists speculate that if Congress fails to act, economic growth will drop significantly, unemployment will rise, and the country will slip back into a deep recession. 

CALL your members of Congress and urge them to work together to stop the Medicare SGR physician payment cut of 26.5 percent and the Medicare sequestration cut of 2 percent before they take effect on January 1, 2013.


How to contact members of Congress:

Phone:  Call AMA's Grassroots Hotline, (888) 434-6200, to be connected with your members of Congress. You will be asked to enter your zip code and select your Representative.

Email: Federal legislators must be contacted via the email forms on their websites: www.writerep.house.govwww.boxer.senate.gov and www.feinstein.senate.gov.


Talking Points

Urge California Senators and your member of Congress to:

  • Repeal the Medicare SGR and stop the 26.5% physician payment cut.
  • Stop the Medicare 2% Sequestration Cut.    
  • Adopt long-term Medicare Payment Reform.
  • Update the California Medicare Geographic Payment Localities.
  • Stop Medicaid and Other Health Care Cuts  


Background

Tough decisions will have to be made in the coming weeks but Congress must make Medicare funding a top priority. We can't allow Congress to ignore the nearly 30 percent Medicare cuts facing physicians and patients in California. Such cuts will certainly harm access to doctors for seniors, military families and potentially all California patients because private insurers follow Medicare. 

 

Moreover, comprehensive reform of the Medicare physician payment system is long overdue. Working together, CMA, AMA, the national specialty societies and state medical associations are currently developing an alternative Medicare payment system that will stabilize the Medicare program and promote high quality, high value care. Physicians are leading the way. But first, Congress must act responsibly and stop the scheduled Medicare SGR payment cut of 26.5 percent. Such cuts seriously threaten the viability of California physician practices and your ability to care for patients. Physicians are also important employers crucial to the California economy.

 

In recent days, Senate and House Republicans have forwarded a proposal to cut the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid (Medi-Cal) physician payment increase as a way to fund the fiscal cliff issues. CMA is opposed to such cuts. California Medi-Cal rates are already some of the lowest in the nation - 50 percent below Medicare. Because of these low rates, 75 percent of physicians cannot afford to participate in Medi-Cal and thus, 50 percent of Medi-Cal patients can't find a physician. Regardless of the ACA, California needs the Medi-Cal rate increase to protect access to care. 

 

CMA will also be working to stop sequestration budget cuts to other vital health care programs, such as public health and graduate medical education (GME).

 

Finally, CMA is pursuing an update to the Medicare physician payment localities in the Medicare/Budget Sequestration legislative package. California's localities have not been updated and thus, 14 urban counties are still designated as rural and physicians in these counties are paid up to 14 percent less than their urban counterparts.  


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