Texas Senators both choose to screw docs

Update: I appear to have been drawn in by polemics from a group not prone to them.  See Health Care BS for details.

Both Texas Senators (both Republicans).  I’m reproducing the email I got today from TMA after the break.

Thanks for nothing, Senators.

Texas Senators Again Broke Promise

Dear Dr:

Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison last night chose to protect insurance companies’ profits instead of protecting our patients’ health. All Texas physicians should be deeply offended by their decision, and we need to let them know exactly how we feel.

A bill to forestall the looming 10.6-percent cut in physicians’ Medicare payments fell one vote short on the floor of the U.S. Senate last night. Either Senator Hutchison or Senator Cornyn could have made the difference. Instead they chose to play partisan politics with our patients’ health and voted to defend unnecessary overpayments to certain Medicare Advantage health plans.

For months, Senators Cornyn and Hutchison have promised physicians they would not let the cut take place on July 1. Twice in the past two weeks, they’ve voted against bills that would have stopped the cut. Now it is just four days from taking effect.

Please contact both of our senators today. Tell them we expect them to keep their promise. It’s up to them to stop the cut.

House Resolution 6331 flew through the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this week. It stalled in the Senate last night. The bill would:

  • Stop the cut, continue current rates for the rest of this year, and provide an additional 1.1-percent increase in 2009;
  • Give Congress 18 months to devise a long-term replacement for the sustainable growth rate (SGR) financing formula, as we demand in TMA’s Texas Medicare Manifesto;
  • Extend the Geographical Practice Cost Index, which protects physicians practicing in most of Texas; and
  • Provide parity for Medicare mental health benefits and increase coverage for preventive services.

See the TMA Grassroots Action Center for some simple talking points and an easy way to contact Senators Hutchison and Cornyn. If you want to call them directly, here are the numbers to their Capitol Hill offices:

  • Sen. John Cornyn: (202) 224-2934
  • Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison: (202) 224-5922

Please don’t pass up this opportunity to hold our senators accountable for their actions.


Josie R. Williams, MD
Texas Medical Association


  1. CancerDoc says:

    You know, from my perspective watching patients try to travel the “Advantage” plans in rural Texas, joining an “Advantage” is a distinct disadvantage. Most of the patients in my part of the country are unaware that by joining an advantage plan, their options are limited.

  2. TheNewGuy says:

    I’ll believe they feel our pain when they vote themselves a 10% pay cut.

  3. Jim in Texas says:

    I also urge any retired military members to ask their Senators to keep this cut from taking effect. The same cuts to Medicare will affect Tri-Care payments to physician; physicain alreay hard to find due to the low payments.

    Unlike Medicare, physicians can refuse to take Tri-Care patients or even turn them out without the same penalties that refusing to treat Medicare patients would have.

  4. Goatwhacker says:

    I dropped Tri-Care in March. It’s an awful program. When I realized it was the insurance paying me the least but giving me the most hassles with referrals and pre-certs (literally hours on hold)it was a no-brainer. The military families deserve much better.

  5. Everyone who still accepted Medicare in Central Oregon is either dropping Medicare or trying to drop Medicare. Which leaves the patients with no providers except for the community clinic and the hospital. The community clinic is not accepting more Medicare patients, so I guess that leaves just the hospital. Not a good solution for anyone.

    Time to write more letters to the State Senators that I swear they do not read…

  6. Goatwhacker says:

    I e-mailed my local Senator (Grassley) who voted for the pay cut last week and decided to follow up with a phone call today. The impression I got after talking to his office is he couldn’t care less. It was not a very hopeful phone call.


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