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AARP Disappointed by Senate’s Vote to Block Protection of Access to Medicare Doctors

S. 1776 would have preserved access by replacing flawed payment system

SUMMARY: Today the U.S. Senate blocked critical legislation to protect access to doctors for the 44 million Americans who rely on Medicare. The Medicare Physician Fairness Act (S. 1776) would have replaced today’s broken doctor payment system, which calls for a 21.5 percent cut in physician pay in January. The bill failed to pass a key procedural vote in the Senate today.

ALASKA

VOTED YES TO MOVE DOCTOR ACCESS BILL TO DEBATE AND VOTE

VOTED TO BLOCK DEBATE ON DOCTOR ACCESS BILL

Begich, Mark

X

Murkowski, Lisa

X

“While we are disappointed by today’s outcome, we applaud Sen. Begich for voting to preserve access to doctors in Medicare and bring this bill to the floor for an up-or-down vote,” said Ken Osterkamp, AARP Alaska State Director. “This critical legislation would have helped the millions of older Americans in Medicare have access to the doctor of their choice by replacing the flawed doctor payment system. We look forward to continuing to work with Sen. Begich and his colleagues to pass health care reform that protects Medicare and ensures older Americans can afford quality health care.”

Osterkamp added: “We are disappointed that Sen. Murkowski voted to block this important Medicare bill from open debate and an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. This bill would permanently replace the broken Medicare physician payment system so people in the program could continue to see their doctor.”

AARP strongly supports the Medicare Physician Fairness Act, introduced by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). This legislation permanently repeals Medicare’s flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) physician payment formula, which has required repeated Congressional action to prevent unwarranted cuts that could harm access to doctors for people in Medicare. Repealing the SGR will stop an unprecedented 21.5 percent pay cut that otherwise will occur in January 2010, and additional cuts in future years.

AARP notified the 111th Congress that it was tracking roll call votes on key legislation important to its 40 million members and reporting the outcomes of these votes back to its members. “We believe people make the right choices when they understand the issues and position taken by their elected officials. AARP intends to ensure that its members get that information,” Osterkamp concluded.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.5 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's 40 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S.Virgin Islands.

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