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The Florida Society of Ophthalmology

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MedPAC Proposal Poses Access Risk to Specialties

American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Members Strongly Urged to Demand Congress Pass a Medicare Physician Pay Fix that Protects Patient Access to Quality Specialized Medical Care

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has issued a proposal to fix the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula used to establish Medicare physician pay, which includes an 18 percent cut in reimbursement for specialists (5.9 percent a year for three years) and would then freeze reimbursement at the reduced level for an additional seven years. MedPAC does not propose any cuts for primary care physicians. MedPAC is an independent congressional advisory committee for the Medicare program, whose recommendations are generally considered very carefully by Congress.

This is clearly and absolutely unacceptable for ophthalmology. Over the past decade, freezes in Medicare reimbursement have already meant physician fees have lagged inflation by about 16 percent. An additional 18 percent cut and then a seven-year freeze likely would result in a huge access problem to specialty care by placing an unwarranted burden on the vulnerable senior population as well as specialty physicians.

The Academy applauds MedPAC for recognizing the critical need for repeal of the SGR, but strongly disagrees with its proposed mechanism.

The Academy is working with other physician associations in a united effort to convince Congress that the MedPAC approach is dangerous and unsustainable. The medical associations are pressing Congress to include the SGR pay fix in federal deficit-reduction legislation that will be considered this fall. The deadline for Congress to act is just weeks away.

Academy members are urged to demand Congress pass a Medicare pay fix that protects patient access. The Academy provides tools to facilitate member communications with their representative and senators.

For more information, contact the Academy's Governmental Affairs office at 202.737.6662.

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