The Texas Medical Association (TMA) and medical associations from several other key states met last week with members of Congress in hopes of saving Medicare for patients.
TMA is collaborating with representatives of state physician societies from California, New York, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arizona, and South Carolina in a grassroots effort to educate freshman members of Congress about several health care issues. Foremost is the need to ensure seniors and people with disabilities have access to a physician when they need health care. To achieve this, Congress must replace the faulty formula used to pay physicians, known as the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), with a fair, sustainable payment system. Physicians again face a 27-percent cut to their payments Jan. 1, 2014, if Congress doesn’t address the payment formula. The grassroots coalition met this week with congressional members in Washington, D.C., in anticipation of the June 5 House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on new SGR legislation, HR 574 by Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz (D-Pa.).
“This is the first effort by an inclusive grassroots coalition of state leaders in organized medicine to urge Congress to solve some of America’s biggest health care problems,” said Louis Goodman, PhD, TMA’s executive vice president and chief executive officer. “We know congressional veterans are aware of issues like the Medicare SGR, but we’ve been in Washington to help bring the freshmen up to speed on the dire need for a permanent SGR fix, and other issues.”
In addition to meeting with key members like Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Texas), and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the multistate grassroots coalition of physician groups educated freshman members about red-tape reduction measures needed to streamline the complicated health care process and cut costs and hassles for patients and physicians. Those include a call to permanently delay implementation of the enormous ICD-10 medical coding system by passing HR 1701 by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and an amendment to S 954 by Sen. Tom Coburn, MD (R-Okla.); support for physicians to be able to own hospitals, under HR 2027 by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas); and repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board through passage of S 351 by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and HR 351 by Rep. Phil Roe, MD (R-Tenn.).
Leaders from TMA and other states know the value of grassroots lobbying. They want to use what they know works in Washington to ensure health care laws are passed that improve patient care. They hope to include more states in this effort.
“We’re assembling a cross-pollination of ideas from state leaders in organized medicine, and visiting not just with Texas’ congressional delegation but also with virtually anyone who will listen to us, to rally for better patient care across America,” said Dr. Goodman.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 47,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 112 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.