By Lori Heim, MD, President
American Academy of Family Physicians
The American Academy of Family Physicians and its more than 94,600 members are extremely disappointed that the Medicare Physician Fairness Act of 2009 (S. 1776) failed to garner the 60 votes required to send this legislation to a full U.S. Senate vote.
We applaud the efforts of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) who, as principal sponsor of S. 1776, worked to put an end to the annual congressional scramble to prevent severe cuts in payment to doctors who care for Americas elderly and disabled patients. Moreover, we commend the senators who joined Sen. Stabenow in voting to allow S. 1776 to proceed to a full Senate vote.
The failure to bring this legislation to a full Senate vote continues a status quo that cannot be sustained and increases the ultimate cost of resolving Medicare physician payment problems. It maintains a system that contributes to the instability of the Medicare program and the continuation of a broken system that pays for procedures rather than for quality. It prolongs a system that increasingly threatens Medicare beneficiaries access to needed health care services. In short, it props up a system that contributes to the problems that health care reform must resolve.
The AAFP will continue to work actively for the repeal of the sustainable growth rate formula and enactment of payment reforms that support the value of primary medical care. America’s elderly and disabled patients must have access to the care they need from the physicians who best provide that care.