Dr. Davidorf was recently invited by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery to attend a conference in Washington, D.C., where policy issues designed to preserve access to high quality specialty medical care was discussed. The conference was sponsored by the Alliance of Specialty Medicine, a non-profit organization representing 100,000 specialty physicians including gastroenterologists, urologists, neurosurgeons, ophthalmologists, and cardiologists, among others.
Following an extensive day of lectures, discussions, and meetings, Dr. Davidorf attended a hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee and met with the offices of senators and congressmen, including those of Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, and Representative Henry Waxman.
Of immediate concern was the importance of repealing and permanently fixing the so-called “Sustainable Growth rate” (SGR) formula (it calls for a cut of nearly 30% to Medicare physician payments beginning January 2012) and repeal of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), created as part of President Obama’s new healthcare package, which could prove to be more severe than the SGR cuts. Under IPAB, significant authority is delegated to a newly created 15 member board of non-elected, unaccountable officials specifically charged with cutting Medicare. As some specialists have already begun to limit the numbers of Medicare patients they see (or leave Medicare altogether), the fear is that with any further cuts, Medicare patients will begin to seriously feel the impact of limited choices in their specialty medical care.
Support for repealing these two items (SGR and IPAB) is meager on the Democratic side. “It was, quite frankly, a bit disheartening to see how an issue as important as healthcare could be so partisan,” commented Dr. Davidorf.
Other topics discussed included:
- Patient protection
- Fostering medical device innovation
- Medical liability reform
- FDA reform
“I would encourage everyone to educate themselves on these issues and contact your senators and congressmen. Let them know your stories, let them know how you feel. The viability of Medicare and access to high quality healthcare is at stake.”