Murkowski Introduces Bill to Sustain, Expand Seniors’ Access to Healthcare

Senator Lisa Murkowski has introduced the Medicare Patient Empowerment Act with four U.S. Senate colleagues, in order to eliminate the bureaucratic red tape currently restricting seniors’ access to medical professionals.  Co-sponsored by Senators Barrasso (R-WY), Cassidy (R-LA), Inhofe (R-OK) and Paul (R-KY), the bill would allow patients to continue the existing relationship they have with their physician once they reach Medicare age, even if the doctor does not participate in Medicare or is not taking new Medicare beneficiaries.

“Many of Alaska’s seniors have a serious problem when it comes to accessing affordable care, and even finding a doctor who will see them under the Medicare program,” said Senator Murkowski. “I’m proud to have introduced this legislation to bring more certainty to the system and provide a better quality of life for older Alaskans.”

Under the legislation, a patient would be allowed to negotiate a price structure with his physician for a service different than what Medicare pays, as an incentive for the doctor to participate.  Medicare reimbursement would then be paid at the typical rate, and the patient would be responsible for paying only the difference in the two prices. It would also permit doctors to charge a lower rate for Medicare patients - a practice currently not permitted.