Seniors face new obstacles in getting care

The California Medical Association renewed its call for Congress to reverse deep Medicare cuts that took effect today and threaten the ability of senior citizens to get access to medical care."As physicians, our mission in life is to serve our patients and protect their health," said Brennan Cassidy, MD, president of CMA. "We are incensed that Congress has allowed these cuts to take place and forced many of us to re-evaluate whether we can afford to treat Medicare patients. We hope Congress will act immediately to restore this funding and ensure seniors get the care they need." Cassidy and other CMA leaders have traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to lobby Congress for quick action. CMA has joined with the American Medical Association, AARP and other groups representing seniors and physicians to demand intervention. California's congressional Democrats and senators have voted to repeal the formula, known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), mandating the cuts. But, the Senate has failed to approve the measure. Dr. Doug Woodburn, a general surgeon based in Ventura, Calif., who has been practicing for 20 years said beginning today he would have to stop seeing new Medicare patients. About one-third of Woodburn's patients are on Medicare. "I have been treating Medicare patients for two decades, but with these cuts I don't think I can continue to do it. For now, I will continue to see new patients with cancer and other urgent problems," Woodburn said. "These are gut-wrenching decisions for physicians to make, but as the government keeps driving the cost of providing health care up and cutting reimbursement - now by more than 20 percent - it's hard to care for patients and keep our practice doors open." CMA encourages all physicians and seniors to contact their members of Congress and U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to advocate for restoring Medicare funding immediately. The California Medical Association represents more than 35,000 physicians in all modes of practice and specialties. CMA is dedicated to the health of all patients in California.

********** Published: March 5, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 46