Survey says? Intervention needed to stop Medicare payment cuts

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Medicare payment cuts could significantly risk care for Medicare beneficiaries, and a survey released by the American Medical Association (AMA) this week showed that 94 percent of American adults say the cuts pose a serious problem, while four out of five say Congress needs to act immediately to stop the looming cuts.

If Congress does not intervene, physicians who treat Medicare beneficiaries face a 25 percent cut, which could ultimately jeopardize care for these patients, according to the AMA.

The survey, which polled 1,000 Americans, asked whether respondents felt that the potential physician payment cuts are a problem—98 percent of those aged 55 or older called the cuts "serious."

Additionally, the survey showed that 81 percent of those aged 55 or older said the cuts pose a “very serious" problem and 91 percent said that Congress should step in immediately.

Ninety-five percent of the surveyed adults aged 65 or older said Congress should act at once.

"Our new poll sends a message to Congress that the American people want them to stop the Medicare cuts, with 95 percent of seniors saying Congress should act immediately to stop them," said AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, MD. "On Dec. 1 the cuts begin, and if Congress has not acted seniors will suffer. We're pulling out the stops to get Congress to act.”

Earlier this year, Congress failed to stop the cuts before the deadlines and some physicians were forced to stop taking in new Medicare patients, cut costs and layoff staff as a result.

"Without physicians, there is no care in Medicare," said Wilson. "The roller coaster ride caused by Congress' inability to stop the cuts for at least a year is eroding physicians' confidence and commitment to Medicare—right during Medicare's open enrollment season for physicians. There is a growing concern that Medicare is becoming an unreliable payor. Congress must allay that fear by stopping the cuts for at least 13 months, which will provide time to begin working on a permanent solution in the new year."

The American Public on Medicare Physician Payment Cut survey was conducted by Synovate eNation between Oct. 22 to Oct. 26.