Idaho’s Members of Congress are home for Thanksgiving and AARP is taking the opportunity to make sure they get a strong message from their constituents: Don’t drive Idaho doctors out of Medicare! In the coming weeks, doctors across the nation face a 25% pay cut under Medicare, if Congress allows it to take effect, many doctors would stop accepting patients under the program. AARP is urging Congress to tackle the issue immediately, and is encouraging its 180,000 Idaho members to contact their Members of Congress during the Thanksgiving recess.
As part of the effort, AARP has set up a toll-free 800 number to connect constituents directly to their Members of Congress: 1-800-944-6723 and a website: www.aarp.org/keepmydoctor, so members and the public can email their lawmakers on the issue.
The looming cuts would be devastating in Idaho – where the state already suffers from one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in the nation (ranking 49th). AARP has heard from members across the state that many are already finding their doctors closing doors to new Medicare patients because reimbursement rates are already too low. The 25% cut under the program, would see even more Idaho doctors leave Medicare in a state where 15% of the population relies on the program.
“While Idaho’s Members of Congress are home for Thanksgiving, we’re reminding them of Idaho’s existing doctor shortage, and urging them not to make it any worse for Medicare beneficiaries by driving doctors out of the program,” said Jim Wordelman, State Director for AARP in Idaho. “Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a time older Idahoans are forced to worry about whether or not their doctor will continue to see them.”
“When our Congressional Delegation returns to Washington, D.C. after the Thanksgiving recess, we’re calling on them to tackle this issue, passing a one year fix while they work on a permanent solution,” added Wordelman.
Last week the Senate voted to delay the cuts, which are set to hit December 1st, by one month – it’s anticipated the House will echo the move after Thanksgiving. If the House does not act, the cuts will go into effect, if they do pass a one month fix, the cuts won’t go into effect until Jan 1st. AARP is urging the House to pass the one month patch fix, and for Congress to then pass a one year fix for 2011, while a permanent solution can be addressed.
The reason for the looming pay cut – a flawed Medicare physician payment formula which Congress has been forced to address every year for the last 10 years. Over the next year, AARP will work with Members of Congress to permanently address the issue.
AARP is Idaho’s largest membership organization with 180,000 members.