RAO Davao City

United States Military Retiree Activities Office Davao City, Philippines


Posted by Service Officer on May 17th, 2008

Everyone in Congress wants to stop a 10.6% cut in Medicare and TRICARE payments to doctors scheduled to take place on July 1. Medicare administrators don’t want the cut to happen either, but they’re worried about how to administer the program if Congress waits until the end of June — or worse yet, until sometime in July or later — to change the law. In early MAY Medicare officials told Congress that the law needs to be changed by 16 JUN in order to allow Medicare computers to be reprogrammed by 1 JUL. If they don’t get updated guidance by that date, Medicare will have to implement the cut on 1 JUL and undo all the erroneous payments later if and when Congress changes the law. The same thing happened a couple of years ago, when Congress had to make a retroactive payment fix. But it’s a nightmare for Medicare (and TRICARE) administrators, and even more so for the doctors who have to suffer the income and book-keeping consequences. Veteran organizations worry that such frustration may cause some doctors to stop seeing elderly and military beneficiaries. The American Medical Association released a survey of nearly 9,000 doctors showing that if the payment cut went into effect:

• 60% of doctors would limit the number of new Medicare patients they accept;

• More than two-thirds would defer the purchase of needed information technology in 2008;

• 50% would reduce their staff; and

• 14% would stop treating patients entirely.

Congressional leaders would love nothing better than to meet the 16 JUN deadline, but they’re struggling to find ways to pay for the $15-$18 billion cost of the fix that a majority of legislators are willing to accept. Like it or not, that’s turned into a political football, with Republicans and Democrats preferring different options. And many on the Hill seem in no mood to compromise in this election year. MOAA said, it’s unacceptable to hold TRICARE and Medicare-eligibles’ access to care hostage to these kinds of political considerations. Congressional leaders need to work out a compromise — and fast — to stop that from happening. Veterans can help by visiting the MOAA or USDR websites http://capwiz.com/moaa/issues/alert/?alertid=10534466 & http://capwiz.com/usdr/issues/alert/?alertid=11354701&queueid=[capwiz:queue_id] to send a suggested message to urge their legislators to act fast. [Source: MOAA Legislative Update 11 May 08 ++]

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