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Medicare Mandatory Assignment for Participating Physicians

WHEREAS:

Physician costs in recent years have been rising at double and triple the rate of general inflation — with a high of seven times the general inflation rate in 1986; and

WHEREAS:

The mean income for physicians has gone up 100% in the last decade to approximately $115,000 a year, compared to approximately $6,000 a year for the current average Social Security benefit; and

WHEREAS:

The elderly spend a greater percentage of their income on health care today than they did before Medicare was enacted in 1965, due primarily to inflated prices that have significantly raised Medicare's beneficiary co-payments; and

WHEREAS:

Medicare covers only 80% of the "reasonable" charge it assigns to each physician service, leaving the remaining 20% to be paid by Medicare beneficiaries — often with great difficulty; and

WHEREAS:

The majority of doctors today charge more than the Medicare assigned rates for most of their services and bill the entire balance to their elderly patients, a practice permitted under the current Medicare law; and

WHEREAS:

Most health insurance plans that supplement Medicare pay only the beneficiaries' official 20% share of the Medicare assigned rates for physician services, leaving to beneficiaries the full responsibility for all physician overcharges; and

WHEREAS:

Massachusetts has enacted a model state law that requires that all doctors who treat Medicare patients accept the Medicare assigned rates as full payment for services; and

WHEREAS:

Various federal courts have issued decisions upholding the constitutionality of the Massachusetts law; and

WHEREAS:

AFSCME Retiree Chapters are working with other senior citizen groups to enact similar Mandatory Assignment laws in other states.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

That AFSCME's 28th International Convention go on record in support of state legislation on Medicare Mandatory Assignment, and urge that the International Union and affiliates around the country assist AFSCME retirees and other seniors in their campaigns to enact state laws; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:

That AFSCME and its affiliates be encouraged to work for the enactment of a Federal Mandatory Assignment law, as well as other measures designed to hold down health care costs for Medicare beneficiaries.

SUBMITTED BY:

 

Danny Donohue, Delegate and International Vice President
William L. McGowan, Delegate and President
Irene Carr, Delegate and Secretary
CSEA/AFSCME Local 1000
Albany, New York