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AARP, Texas Medical Association Join Forces to Urge Passage of Bill Protecting Access to Doctors and Improving Medicare

Groups representing doctors and beneficiaries criticize Senators Hutchison and Cornyn for blocking bill to protect access to doctors and improve Medicare

AUSTIN, Texas, July 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AARP Texas joined forces today with the Texas Medical Association to urge Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn to reconsider and support a bipartisan bill that would stop a 10.6 percent cut to doctors who treat Medicare patients, keep Medicare premiums fair, and make significant improvements to a program that 44 million Americans depend on.

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Last week, Senators Hutchison and Cornyn joined a minority of Senators in voting to block legislation that would have helped people on Medicare maintain access to their doctors, keep premiums fair and improve benefits for the most vulnerable while boosting health care quality through national e-prescribing. The Senate vote on the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (H.R. 6331), which passed by a bipartisan landslide in the House of Representatives, was scheduled for June 26 so it would become law before the cuts to doctor payments were to go into effect on July 1.

The Senate is currently scheduled to reconsider H.R. 6331 immediately following the July 4th recess.

"It is deeply troubling that Senators Hutchison and Cornyn voted to block a bill with bipartisan support that would have preserved patients' access to their doctors and improved Medicare for the 2.7 million Texans who depend on it," said Bob Jackson, AARP Texas state director. "For the sake of older Texans, people with disabilities and military families, we urge both senators to vote for this bill."

In addition to preventing a 10 percent cut to payments to doctors, the Medicare bill would have: helped keep premiums fair, strengthened protections for lower income beneficiaries, improved Medicare's coverage of preventive services, and made Medicare more efficient through electronic prescribing.

"As soon as they return to Washington from the July 4 recess, we call on Senators Cornyn and Hutchison to make it their No. 1 priority to pass .H.R. 6331," said Texas Medical Association President Josie Williams, MD. "Our elderly patients, Texans with disabilities, and our practices just can't withstand this 10.6 percent cut in Medicare payments. And our senators will soon have the opportunity to correct their big mistake."

Throughout the debate on Medicare legislation, AARP, AMA, and the Texas Medical Association have engaged their members in the fight to keep Medicare fair and protect access to doctors. Hundreds of thousands of AARP supporters, including more than 56,000 in Texas, called and emailed Congress, signed petitions, wrote letters to their local papers, and participated in Keep Medicare Fair events around the country over the last several weeks. In addition, more than 41,000 patients and physicians called Congress in June through the AMA grassroots hotline, and the AMA is airing new radio and television ads that urge opponents of H.R. 6331 to put patients' access to care before insurance profits by voting for the bill as soon as they return to Washington from their holiday recess.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization 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, published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn, our quarterly newsletter for 50 + educators; and our website, 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.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 43,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 120 component county medical societies around the state. Organized in 1853, TMA's key objective is to improve the health of all Texans.

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