((BlackDoctor.org) — The nation’s oldest and largest association of African American physicians, the National Medical Association (NMA), has issued a “Call to Action” in defense of Medicare and other healthcare programs. The organization has expressed its alarm at the recent budget negotiations which now potentially target Medicare and other healthcare programs.
“Any spending cuts that reduce access to care or compromise the quality of the care delivered will not help patients and, indeed, will potentially harm many of our most vulnerable fellow Americans,” says Dr. Leonard Weather, NMA President. “Reduction in payments to teaching hospitals which train doctors may result in fewer training positions for young doctors. Subsequently, we will have fewer well trained physicians when we actually need more physicians to take care of an aging population. Fewer doctors would mean that more people will be forced to utilize emergency rooms, which may result in poorer health outcomes and more expensive care. We fail to see how this short-sighted reasoning does not solve the underlying problem.”
Medicare and Medicaid insure more than 100 million people and account for 23 percent of all federal spending. This makes these programs a target in any budgetary crisis, but the NMA states that you cannot put a price tag on quality of care for our elderly and disabled. The NMA has been an unyielding and vocal supporter for Medicare since its inception; and was one of the original advocates for the creation of Medicare in 1965.
“We agree that we must get the nation’s fiscal house in order, reduce the deficit, and pay down the debt,” says Dr. Weather. “We insist however, that we cannot build a stronger nation on the backs of the sick and helpless. We urge Congress and the administration to find common ground in areas of the budget that do not end up compromising access to quality care.”
The NMA also urged others to take a stand, calling upon “its most valued allies,” including patients, their families and other organizations to immediately contact their elected officials and stand together in the fight for Medicare and Medicaid.
“Our House of Delegates has a clear and resounding support for Medicare and Medicaid,” says Dr. Rahn Bailey, the Speaker of the House of Delegates of the NMA and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Meharry Hospital. “I am sure that we will once again rise as the policy making body of the NMA and the voice for the health of minority and underserved populations.”
To contact your elected officials, call 1-800-FED-INFO or visit www.usa.gov.