Press Release             

Contact: Paul Precht
Director of Policy and Communications

Akiko Takano
Deputy Director of Communications

October 19, 2009

Medicare Rights Center Supports Legislation To Repeal Medicare’s Flawed
Physician Payment Formula, Avert Looming Cuts

-- National Consumer Advocacy Group Urges All Senators to Support S. 1776 --

New York, NY—Today the Medicare Rights Center sent a letter to Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in support of S. 1776, legislation sponsored by Senator Stabenow that would repeal Medicare’s flawed physician payment formula. Under the current Sustainable Growth Rate formula, physicians would see a 21.5 percent cut in their Medicare payment rate in 2010, as well as additional cuts in succeeding years. These cuts threaten to disrupt the relationships between people with Medicare and the doctors who care for them; a permanent repeal of the current payment formula is essential for stabilizing access to physicians under Medicare for the coming decade. The Medicare Rights Center urges all senators to support S. 1776 when it is brought to the Senate floor for consideration and passage this week. The full text of the letter follows, and is also available at

October 19, 2009

The Honorable Senator Debbie Stabenow
133 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Stabenow,

The Medicare Rights Center wishes to express its gratitude for the introduction of S. 1776, which would enact a long overdue repeal of the flawed Medicare physician payment formula and avert looming payment cuts to the doctors that millions of older adults and people with disabilities rely on for their care. Stable access to health care for people with Medicare cannot be maintained under a payment formula that requires year after year of payment cuts, including a drastic 21.5 percent cut scheduled to take effect in 2010.

Congress has long recognized the Sustainable Growth Rate is a poor method for establishing Medicare payment rates for doctors; in each of the last seven years it has voted to override the cuts mandated under the formula. S. 1776 would substitute zero updates for the next ten years for cuts now required by the formula, giving Congress a new budgetary baseline to establish a payment system that maintains access and encourages the delivery of high-quality care. Another temporary band-aid to avoid next year’s cuts does not deliver the stability that both people with Medicare and health reform efforts need. Permanent repeal of this flawed payment formula is the far-sighted and fiscally responsible course of action and would reinforce the delivery system reforms in pending health care legislation that improve reimbursement for primary care doctors and reward delivery of high-quality, coordinated care.

Passage of S. 1776 is crucial to ensuring people with Medicare can maintain relationships with the doctors who treat them. The Medicare Rights Center is ready to work with you to ensure all senators understand the importance of this legislation to the older adults and people with disabilities in their home states.

Joe Baker

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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.


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