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Iowans Look for a ‘Treatment’ for Looming Medicare Crisis

November 28, 2007

Cedar Rapids, IA - If Congress doesn't "prescribe a treatment" in the next few weeks to stop scheduled Medicare payment cuts, Iowa patients could be left to feel the pain. A forum scheduled for Thursday in Cedar Rapids will discuss how to strengthen Medicare. Anthony Carroll with the Iowa American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) says the cutbacks could have a domino effect.

"Doctors are going to see these payments reduced, and that's going to limit the number of Medicare patients that they will see. Ultimately, that means less availability for Iowans to be treated by the doctor of their choice."

Carroll says Medicare patients also could see premiums go up even higher unless the cuts are stopped. The issue has been largely ignored so far by the presidential candidates in the state, he adds.

"It's an issue that hasn't gotten a lot of attention. This real crisis facing Medicare has gone under the radar."

He says AARP is urging the Senate to reduce excess payments to private Medicare Advantage insurance plans that are, on average, 12 percent more than traditional Medicare. The vast majority of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in traditional plans, which means they help pay for the more expensive private plans without receiving any of the benefits.

The Medicare forum will be held from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM at the Clarion Hotel, 525 33rd St. S.W.

Dick Layman/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - IA