Murkowski: Medicare “Empowerment” Bill Would Expand Options

“Seniors Need Solutions and Certainty” For Medical Needs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today introduced a bill that would cut through bureaucratic red tape and allow seniors wider access to medical professionals through the Medicare Patient Empowerment Act.  “At the age when many Americans begin to need extra medical attention, the current Medicare system puts hurdles in their path to care,” said Murkowski. “Now more than ever, with the added scrutiny Medicare is getting, our seniors need solutions and certainty.”

The Medicare Patient Empowerment Act would allow patients to continue the relationship they have with their physician, even if the doctor does not participate in Medicare or is not taking new Medicare beneficiaries.  Under the legislation, Medicare would pay the amount typically covered, with the patient responsible – or able to negotiate – any difference between the going Medicare rate and the physician's fees.  It would also allow doctors to charge a lower rate for Medicare patients - a practice currently not permitted.

“We’re not delivering on our promise to older Alaskans and Americans, who have paid into the system for years only to find few providers, longer waits and higher costs,” added Murkowski. “I’m proud that this bill cuts through the mandates, paperwork and reporting requirements and takes the D.C. bureaucrats out of the relationship between seniors and their physicians.”

Alaska’s medical community applauded the legislation. “By allowing patients and physicians to independently and voluntarily contract for care, the Medicare Patient Empowerment Act puts control back in their hands and preserves the relationship with their physician,” the Alaska State Medical Association said.