Obama Weekly Address: Fair Pay for Doctors

WASHINGTON – In this week’s address, President Barack Obama called on Senate Republicans to stop blocking a vote to prevent a 21 percent pay cut for doctors who see Medicare patients – a pay cut that will hurt America’s seniors and their doctors. Since 2003, Congress, under Republican and Democratic leadership, has deferred these cuts in Medicare reimbursements from going into effect. The President is committed to finding a responsible, long term solution to this problem, but it is not acceptable to punish America’s seniors or the physicians who treat them. If Congress does not act, then doctors will start receiving lower Medicare reimbursements next week, which could lead to seniors losing their doctors. 

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Weekly Address
Washington, DC

More than a decade ago, Congress set up a formula that governs how doctors get paid by the Medicare program.  The intent was to slow the growth of Medicare costs, but the result was a formula that has proposed cutting payments for America’s doctors year after year after year.  These are cuts that would not only jeopardize our physicians’ pay, but our seniors’ health care.

Since 2003, Congress has acted to prevent these pay cuts from going into effect.  These votes were largely bipartisan, and they succeeded when Democrats ran Congress and when Republicans ran Congress – which was most of the time.  

This year, a majority of Congress is willing to prevent a pay cut of 21% — a pay cut that would undoubtedly force some doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients altogether.  But this time, some Senate Republicans may even block a vote on this issue.  After years of voting to defer these cuts, the other party is now willing to walk away from the needs of our doctors and our seniors. 

President Barack Obama - White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 6/11/10

Now, I realize that simply kicking these cuts down the road another year is not a long-term solution to this problem.  For years, I have said that a system where doctors are left to wonder if they’ll get fairly reimbursed makes absolutely no sense.  And I am committed to permanently reforming this Medicare formula in a way that balances fiscal responsibility with the responsibility we have to doctors and seniors.  In addition, we’re already taking significant steps to slow the growth of Medicare costs through health insurance reform – not by targeting doctors and seniors, but by eliminating 50% of the waste, fraud, and abuse in the system by 2012.  This not only strengthens Medicare, it saves taxpayer dollars. 

I’m absolutely willing to take the difficult steps necessary to lower the cost of Medicare and put our budget on a more fiscally sustainable path.  But I’m not willing to do that by punishing hard-working physicians or the millions of Americans who count on Medicare.  That’s just wrong.  And that’s why in the short-term, Congress must act to prevent this pay cut to doctors. 

If they don’t act, doctors will see a 21% cut in their Medicare payments this week.  This week, doctors will start receiving these lower reimbursements from the Medicare program.  That could lead them to stop participating in the Medicare program.  And that could lead seniors to lose their doctors. 

We cannot allow this to happen.  We have to fix this problem so that our doctors can get paid for the life-saving services they provide and keep their doors open.  We have to fix this problem to keep the promise of Medicare for our seniors so that they get the health care they deserve.  So I urge Republicans in the Senate to at least allow a majority of Senators and Congressmen to stop this pay cut.  I urge them to stand with America’s seniors and America’s doctors. 

Thanks.

  3 comments for “Obama Weekly Address: Fair Pay for Doctors

  1. June 13, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    The collapsing US, (and Global), economies offer no solution to the physician reimbursement issue.

    In the late 1990’s Congress created a Medicare cost-control measure, the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. The SGR formula is based on (1) the growth of the gross domestic product, and an estimate of (2) the yearly cost of physician services. When these two factors, (the collapsing economy, & increasing costs) are plugged into the formula a reduction in Medicare physician reimbursements is required.

    Congress lives in a self-created economic fantasy world; so rather than changing the SGR formula, Congress chose to, starting in 2002 to avoid the cuts in the payments to Medicare doctors. The avoidance causes the accumulated difference in the targeted and actual payments to grow larger every year to a 21% reduction for next week.
    http://www.naus.org/news/news_tricare.html

    The Obama Solution: bring down medical costs by reducing access and expensive treatments.

    Reduce access by not reimbursing the less efficient Hospitals that treat a higher percentage of the poor and destitute. The poor have a less healthy diet and more chronic diseases and more trips to the hospital for the same medical condition; the hospital is deemed “less efficient” under Obama Care and receives less reimbursement funds and moves closer to bankruptcy. Open borders contributes to the closing of emergency rooms, resulting in longer ambulance rides and more “Dead on Arrival”.

    Delaying surgery reduces costs. Depending on the medical condition if surgery can be delayed for “X” number of months or years then a “Y” percent of people will die. HMO’s were forced to estimate how many families would win the wrongful death lawsuit. The federal government doesn’t have to worry about lawsuits. Pain pills and a wheelchair are less expensive than hip-replacement surgery.

    The LaRouche Solution: Save the Nation from economic collapse by passing Glass-Steagall legislation and shutting down derivatives. Health care is expensive. No system of health care will work in a collapsing economy.

    What’s Glass-Steagall? Visit http://www.robertLauten.com

  2. ELAINE PROKO
    June 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    The Sustainable Growth Rate (SRG)formula determins the Medicare physician reimbursement and needs to be amended to recognize the economic reality of a collapsing economy. The gross domestic product is part of the formula.
    http://www.naus.org/news/news_tricare.html
    (Right hand column)

  3. June 15, 2010 at 9:25 am

    Fiscal Fraud of Obamacare Snowballing
    http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=37301

    An earlier version of Obamacare would of set the reimbursement rates for Medicare doctors at the true anticipated level. But this provision of Obamacare would of added $208 billion to the deficit and would of lost votes.
    So – enter “Bait & Switch”.
    (1) Pull the provision and pass Obamacare.
    (2) Have the planned crises, the 21% cut.
    (3) Pass the $22.9 billion “fix” which would cover the fraud through September 2011.
    (4) Repeat. Cover the fiscal fraud next year, after Sept. 2011.
    (5) Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Year after year after year.

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