Access to senior care became a hot topic in Congress once again this week as the House prepared for a vote on H.R. 3961, the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009. The bill, which serves as a repeal for the broken physician payment formula, reopened old wounds for seniors and military families affected by the changes.

According to AMA immediate-past President Nancy Nielsen, M.D., “Physicians want to care for seniors and military family patients, but steep payment cuts of 21 percent next year, with more in years to come, will force them to limit the Medicare and TRICARE patients they can treat.” In support of the passing of the bill, Dr. Nielsen added, “Swift passage of H.R. 3961 will be a vote of confidence for America’s physicians as they decide if they can participate in Medicare next year and care for seniors and military families.”

Other senior advocate groups and military organizations weighed in on the situation with similar concerns: “A recent poll by the AARP found that 76 percent of Americans 50 and older believe that ensuring that people could see the doctor of their choice is a convincing reason to support health care reform,” said AARP President Jennie Chin Hansen.

Echoing similar statements, Colonel Steve Strobridge, USAF-Ret., Director of Government Relations of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) added, “The last thing troops in combat should have to worry about is whether their sick spouse or child can find a doctor to treat them.”