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Letter to the Senate supporting the Save Medicare Act of 2008 (S.2785)

May 15, 2008

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we urge you to support the Save Medicare Act of 2008 (S.2785), introduced by Senator Stabenow (D-MI), to ensure that Medicare-eligible educators continue to have access to essential health care.

Unless Congress acts, Medicare reimbursements will decline by 10.6 percent on July 1, 2008, and by another 5.4 percent on January 1, 2009 - cuts that threaten to shrink further the already shrunken ranks of physicians willing to accept Medicare patients. Nearly half the medical groups that participate in Medicare are accepting fewer Medicare patients or have stopped accepting them altogether, according to a recent survey conducted by the Medical Group Management Association.

Many physicians turn away Medicare patients because reimbursement rates for some services are so low they do not cover the cost of providing them. As a result, some physicians are considering steps that could compromise the quality of care - laying off staff or postponing purchases of needed technology - or contemplating early retirement.

Declining Medicare reimbursement rates bode ill for the future of health care in America. State medical societies estimate that by 2020, when the U.S. population will be 24 percent larger than it is now, our nation could have up to 200,000 fewer physicians than we need. Primary care physicians, who are paid less than specialists, will be in especially short supply. With more equitable reimbursement, more of today's medical students might become primary care physicians, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

We urge you to support S. 2785 to encourage physicians to continue accepting Medicare patients and related legislation to increase the supply of primary care physicians.

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy