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Pennsylvania Medical Society and AARP Criticize Senator Specter for Blocking Bill to Protect Access to Doctors and Improve Medicare
Date:7/3/2008

Groups Call on Senator Specter to Reconsider and Support Bill that Stops Cuts to Doctors and Keeps Medicare Fair

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Gridlock has paralyzed the U.S. Senate, derailing a critical bipartisan bill that would have stopped a 10 percent cut to doctors who treat Medicare patients, kept Medicare premiums fair, and made significant improvements to a program that 44 million Americans depend on.

Last week, Senator Arlen Specter 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 purposely scheduled for June 26 so it would become law before the cuts to doctor payments were to go into effect on July 1.

"We are deeply troubled that Senator Specter voted to block a bill with bipartisan support that would have preserved patients' access to their doctors and improved Medicare for the 44 million Americans who depend on it," said Estella Hyde, AARP Pennsylvania State President. "For the sake of older Americans, people with disabilities and military families, we urge Senator Specter to listen to his constituents and reconsider his vote when the bill comes up again after the congressional recess."

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

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SOURCE AARP Pennsylvania
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