WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the leaders of 15 physician organizations will deliver a letter to the White House and Democratic and Republican leaders to sound a note of alarm about proposals under consideration as part of the deficit reduction package to accompany the vote to raise the debt ceiling. While physicians acknowledge the necessity for the debt ceiling to be raised to prevent unprecedented disruption to our economy, they are against proposed changes to Medicare and Medicaid that would decrease patient’s access to care or the quality of care they receive.
Making “house calls” to congressional leadership of both parties as well as to policymakers within the Obama administration, physicians plan to share the perspectives of the millions of patients who rely on the Medicaid safety net and who would directly bear the brunt of the severe cuts under consideration.
“As physicians on the front lines of our health care system, we understand that the rising cost of health care burdens our patients, our health care system, and our country,” said Dr. Vivek Murthy, President of Doctors for America. “However, we are concerned about proposals to cut Medicare and Medicaid costs which would shift the burden to those that can least afford it – seniors, children, the disabled, and the poor. We believe the right way to address health care costs is to focus on making our delivery system more efficient, improving the quality and consistency of care, strengthening the workforce, and developing payment systems that fairly reward valuable care."
“Medicaid is a national lifeline for seniors, people with disabilities, and working families that delivers far more than its dollar value,” said Dr. L. Toni Lewis, Physician Chair for SEIU Healthcare. “Medicaid is the difference between health and sickness, between financial stability and medical bankruptcy, and between job creation and job loss. Our patients and our economy simply cannot afford any cuts to this essential safety net."
"In addition to providing vital health services to senior citizens and those affected by our economic crisis, Medicare and Medicaid are also a crucial source of support for our nation’s teaching hospitals. Significant cuts to this funding would have a devastating effect on our ability to train new physicians and ensure all Americans have access to care,” said Colin McCluney, Education and Advocacy Fellow with the American Medical Student Association.
Current proposals would shift a greater share of Medicaid costs to the states, creating an incentive for states that are already facing difficult budget decisions to reduce both the number of people served and benefits. With one in three Americans receiving care through Medicaid and Medicare, the physician organizations recommended other potential reductions in cost to the program through innovation, care coordination, technology, and other methods that could produce equivalent savings without imperiling the quality of patient care.
The letter is available here.