But doctors remain hopeful. One positive sign: Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize that the payment problem must be addressed, said Paul Imber, DO, chair of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) Board of Governors Legislative Representatives Committee. He noted that the Senate voted unanimously to pass the one-month payment reprieve. “That’s bipartisan. It crosses all barriers,” he said.
The public, too, is aware of the problem. An AARP survey released in October 2010 found that 81 percent of its members who are enrolled in Medicare and 86 percent of those not yet eligible for Medicare were concerned about the impact the pay cut could have on physician access.
The public’s concern could motivate Congress to act, Dr. Imber said. “A good number of physicians will restrict the access of Medicare patients to their practices if things continue the way they are, so things have to be fixed.”