Docs Declare Victory in Fight to Stop Medical Rationing to Elderly

WASHINGTON, July 30 1997/PRNewswire/ -- Three years ago, AAPS marked the 30th anniversary of Medicare, declaring July 30th as "Medicare Patient Freedom Day." Doctors across the country treated Medicare patients for $1 cash, refusing to file claims for reimbursement out of the pockets of taxpayers. The government's response? It was illegal for patients to see any doctor they wanted and get whatever services they wanted even if they paid for it themselves.

This turned the spotlight on the unconscionable government rationing of care to seniors. Headlines read "Brain Surgery for a Buck," "Patients Lose Medical Rights at 65" and "Take the Government Money Or Else!" AAPS began work on creating awareness of alternatives to prevent rationing -- allow seniors to make private contracts with their doctors and supplement plans with their own money.

This year's "Medicare Patient Freedom Day" celebrates the results of those three years of effort -- the inclusion of two private contracting provisions for seniors in the budget agreement reached by Congress yesterday. "We applaud Congress, particularly Sen. Jon Kyl. This year we have something to celebrate and good news for our patients. These two provisions are the first step to restoring seniors' right to spend their own money in the way they see fit -- just like anyone under the age of 65," said Jane M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director of AAPS.

"Up until now, government bureaucrats have said they'll decide how to ration care -- that seniors are too stupid or feeble to decide with their doctors what medical care is best for them. This is an important and overdue acknowledgment that the government has no right to say you can't spend your own money even if it means saving your own life."

The first provision, "private fee-for-service," allows seniors to upgrade their health care coverage by supplementing Medicare's payments with their own. The second allows patients and physicians to enter into "private contracts" for a mutually agreeable fee, without submitting a bill or asking for reimbursement from Medicare. This not only prevents the government from rationing care, but protects patients' privacy, creates savings for taxpayers, and may actually cost less for the patient.

"Many doctors who would be happy to reduce fees or treat the patient for free if it means keeping 'Big Brother government' out of the transaction," said Dr. Orient.

Other organizations supporting private contracting include Americans for Tax Reform, Christian Coalition, Eagle Forum, Seniors Coalition, 60 Plus Association, National Right to Life Committee, Family Research Council and AMA -- representing millions of physicians and taxpayers.

AAPS is a professional association representing physicians in all specialties and practices, and since 1943 has been dedicated to the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship and the Oath of Hippocrates.

SOURCE Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.

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