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AARP Pennsylvania Hosts Panel on Strengthening Medicare
Date:11/29/2007

Local and National Experts Address Smart Solutions to Keep Program Accessible and Affordable

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today AARP and the Pennsylvania Medical Society hosted a panel discussion with local voters to address the problems facing Medicare this fall. Doctors in Medicare could leave the program after scheduled pay cuts go into effect in January, which would make it harder for people in the program to find a doctor. But with Medicare enrollees already facing skyrocketing premiums, the panel agreed the costs of stopping the cuts should not be placed on the backs of people in Medicare.

"Unaffordable Medicare premiums and problems finding doctors are not the kind of holiday presents that anyone really wants to get from the Congress," says AARP Pennsylvania executive council member Stella Hyde. "We need to stop excessive hikes in Medicare Part B premiums and we need to protect access to our doctors."

The panel educated participants about the importance of urging lawmakers to stop the cuts to doctors in Medicare while limiting premium increases and providing additional help with out-of-pocket expenses for those with lower incomes. By reducing government subsidies to private insurance companies (Medicare Advantage) Medicare can save billions and pay for improvements that will strengthen the program for all.

Pennsylvania Medical Society President Dr. Peter Lund told the audience most doctors already say they will be forced to limit the number of new Medicare patients they see if the cuts take effect in January.

"Older Americans are already beginning to feel the impact of Medicare's current physician payment rates, which are now at 2001 levels. A large number of Medicare patients seeking a new primary care physician already have problems finding a doctor," says Lund.

AARP and the American Medical Association -- the nation's largest organizations for people 50-plus and physicians --
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SOURCE AARP Pennsylvania
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