April 10, 2008

Dear Congress,


My name is Clinton. I am a second year medical student at the John A. Burns School of Medicine and I'm a minority in my class. Why is that? I want to go into a primary care field -- Family Medicine. I have long recognized the need in our country. We have a shortage of primary care physicians, dedicated people who coordinate care across our entire health care system. Family doctors have the greatest potential to impact the lives of many patients with the tools for early detection, prevention and education, in terms of cost (insurance savings) and benefits (better quality of life.)

Many of my classmates have been discouraged by the long hours, endless paperwork and low reimbursement rates seen in Primary Care. Many of them seek careers in more lucrative, more "successful" specialties. Is this really the direction we want to drive some of America's best and brightest? Is the message "We don't Care about Health Care" really an idea we want to spread?

There's something you can do to help. I'm not expecting you to change our health care system overnight; I'm merely asking for your support on a bill that will greatly benefit our Family Physicians. Hopefully, this will be a step that will take us in a new direction and everyone will have the care they deserve.

As a future family physician, I urge you to support S. 2785, the Save Medicare Act of 2008 and stop the Medicare payment cut that will take place after July 1, 2008, and guarantee an 18-month positive update so that Congress and the White House can work on fixing the Medicare payment program.

Unless Congress acts, family doctors will be hit with a decrease of more than 10 percent in payments after July 1. This sort of shifting Medicare reimbursement makes it harder for them to take new Medicare patients - do you want them to pay out of pocket to take care of patients?

Congress MUST replace the current, confusing Medicare physician payment formula that determines payment amounts. We need a NEW formula that makes sense and provides predictable annual increases that reflect the cost of providing care to patients. Family physicians deliver the primary and preventive care seniors need to stay well and to better manage chronic conditions - the leading drivers of health care spending. As the population ages, family physicians are positioned to keep seniors healthy and cut U.S. health care costs. But, they can't do it unless Congress acts now.

I urge you to help family physicians stay in business. I would like to be able to provide quality care for America's elderly without worrying about "breaking even." Please support the Save Medicare Act of 2008 to stop the payment cut by July 1 and ensure an 18-month positive update to the Medicare physician payment rate.

Change can start, here and now! Care about Primary Care, please. :)

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