Home / News Briefs / AMA Releases 22 New “Patient Access Hot Spots” Nationwide – Medicare Cuts To Physicians Will Make Problem Worse

AMA Releases 22 New “Patient Access Hot Spots” Nationwide – Medicare Cuts To Physicians Will Make Problem Worse

Permanent Repeal of Medicare Physician Payment Formula Essential

WASHINGTON – Highlighting the impact of looming Medicare cuts on seniors’ access and choice of physician, the American Medical Association (AMA) released today a new analysis of states where access to care for Medicare patients is already at risk. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia made the AMA’s new“Patient Access Hot Spots” list, which is based on their ranking in the top 15 of at least two of five objective measures of access problems.

“This new analysis shows that seniors’ access and choice of physician is already threatened, and bolsters the case for permanent repeal of the flawed payment formula that projects the Medicare cuts,” said AMA President-elect Cecil Wilson, M.D. “The Senate is considering legislation this week that lays the foundation to permanent repeal, and we urge Senators to pass the bill to preserve the security and stability of Medicare.”

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), a longtime champion for patients and their physicians, introduced S. 1776, the “Medicare Physician Fairness Act of 2009.” The bill creates a pathway to permanent reform this year, and the AMA has activated its grassroots network of patients and physicians nationwide to call for bill passage.

Today’s new finding affirms independent research from Congress’ Medicare advisory committee (MedPAC) that found that 28 percent of Medicare patients looking for a new primary care physician had some problem finding one, as well as anecdotal reports from patients and physicians. The AMA analyzed state-level data on five measures of access and identified the top 15 states on each measure. The 22 hot spots are based on their ranking in the top 15 of at least two of five objective measures of access problems:

Practicing physicians per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries.
Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and over living below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
Estimated underserved population living in primary care health professional shortage areas.
Hospital emergency room visits per 1,000 population.
Percentage reporting not seeing a doctor in the past 12 months because of cost.

“Without repeal, physicians face Medicare cuts of about 40 percent over the next five years,” said Dr. Wilson. “In two years, the baby boomers will begin to reach Medicare age, and they will expect access to high-quality medical care to stay healthy and active as they age. Physicians want to provide this care, but they need to know that Medicare will cover the cost of providing 21st century medical care.”

“The time for band-aid fixes that preserve access in the short-term but grow the size of future cuts is past,” said Dr. Wilson. “The U.S. Senate can help ensure that physicians can care for Medicare patients now and into the future through permanent repeal of the broken Medicare physician payment formula.”

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