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New AMA Survey Finds Medicare Cuts Will Hurt Seniors

WASHINGTON, -- Medicare patients' ability to get in and see the doctor will be severely hampered next year by a steep Medicare cut to physicians, according to a new survey released today by the American Medical Association (AMA). The survey, which jumpstarts a national campaign to stop next year's 10 percent cut, was completed by nearly 9,000 physicians, and their responses paint a bleak picture for the future of Medicare.

"The AMA is deeply concerned by the alarming news that 60 percent of America's physicians will be forced to limit the number of new Medicare patients they will be able to care for next year when Medicare cuts physician payments," said AMA Board Chair Cecil B. Wilson, M.D.

Congress' own advisory committee on Medicare, MedPAC, has recommended that Congress stop next year's 10 percent cut and update payments 1.7 percent, in line with practice cost increases. The AMA urges Congress to enact legislation now that will replace the looming cuts with Medicare payment updates based on practice costs.

"Congressional action is the only remedy that will help assure seniors' access to doctors," said Dr. Wilson. "We ask America's seniors, and their loved ones, to join us in calling for legislation to help avert an access to care crisis for Medicare patients."

Next year's 10 percent cut is just the tip of the iceberg. Over nine years the cuts total about 40 percent, while the government estimates that the cost of caring for patients will increase 20 percent. Over the life of the cuts, 77 percent of physicians say they will be forced to limit the number of new Medicare patients they treat.

"As physicians brace for nine years of steep payment cuts, it will be extremely difficult for them to continue accepting new Medicare patients into their practices," cautioned Dr. Wilson. "The baby boomers begin entering the program in 2010, and the Medicare cuts increase the likelihood that there may not be
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