By U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz (PA-13)
Nearly 50 years ago, we made a promise to ensure quality, affordable healthcare for all American seniors. In order to protect that promise, we must promote excellence and efficiency in Medicare, while being more fiscally responsible. One of the most important ways we can achieve those critical goals is to fix the broken Medicare physician payment system, which has created uncertainty and instability for seniors, healthcare providers, and the federal budget for decades. Because of the failed physician payment system, there is a looming crisis facing seniors and the doctors who care for them: on January 1, 2013 doctors could be hit with a scheduled reduction in Medicare payments of more than 30 percent.
If these cuts ever went into effect, it could mean tens of millions of seniors no longer have access to their doctors and essential healthcare services. This is unacceptable. For too long, Congress has failed to seriously tackle the issue of physician payment reform, and instead has kicked the can down the road with short-term fixes that have now created a long-term fiscal nightmare. This has been the absolute wrong approach for American seniors and our federal budget. And that is why I have been working hard to protect seniors’ access to their doctors by putting forth a plan to fix this broken system once and for all.
In May, I introduced bipartisan legislation with Rep. Joe Heck (NV-R). Our plan, the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act (H.R.5707), ends the broken physician reimbursement system and replaces it with a new, long-term plan that will treat physicians fairly, improve patient outcomes, and reduce costs in Medicare. It also sets us on a long-term path toward greater quality, value, and fiscal responsibility in Medicare and will save billions for taxpayers over the long run. This bill has been endorsed by the Fleet Reserve Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Physicians, the American Geriatrics Society, and other leading organizations.
Republicans and Democrats across the ideological spectrum agree that the payment system must be repealed and that the rate of growth in health care spending in the United States is unsustainable. But, even with strong bipartisan support, political hurdles still remain. I believe we must set aside politics and work together to enact a fiscally responsible and permanent solution to solve this problem. We owe it to American seniors to end this perennial threat to Medicare once and for all.
Call on your Member of Congress and urge them to sign on in support of the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act, and in doing so stand up for millions of American seniors who depend on their access to their doctors and healthcare providers for everyday and lifesaving care.