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American Academy of Ophthalmology Calls for Medicare Physician Pay Fix that Assures Patient Access to Quality Specialized Medical Care

09/21/2011   06:00:00 AM

MedPAC Proposes to Shift Cost to Medical Specialties

SAN FRANCISCO AND WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) late last week introduced a proposal to fix the formula used to establish Medicare physician pay that includes an 18 percent cut in reimbursement for specialists (5.9 percent for three years), followed by a seven-year freeze at the reduced level. Over the past decade, freezes in Medicare reimbursement have already meant physician fees have lagged inflation by about 16 percent.

MedPAC is an independent Congressional advisory committee for the Medicare program, whose recommendations are generally considered very carefully by Congress. While the American Academy of Ophthalmology is encouraged that MedPAC recognizes the critical need for a new Medicare pay formula for physicians that protects patients' access to quality medical care, the Academy strongly opposes the MedPAC proposal.

"An additional 18 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement for specialists followed by a seven-year freeze is clearly and absolutely unacceptable," said David W. Parke II, MD, CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Such a drastic reduction in reimbursement to specialist physicians that includes ophthalmologists likely would result in a huge access problem to specialty care and place an unwarranted burden on the vulnerable senior population. Congress needs to focus on achieving Medicare savings through quality and increased value."

The Academy strongly urges Congress to take action to fix the flawed Medicare payment system and will work with legislators to advance a solution that creates savings during this era of ever-increasing demand for medical services by an aging patient population.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons — Eye M.D.s — with more than 30,000 members worldwide.  Eye health care is provided by the three "O's" – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit www.aao.org.

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