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Michigan Doctors Rally to Stop Tax on State's Health Care System

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 General News J E 4
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LANSING, Mich., Oct. 20 Physicians from across Michigan traveled to the State Capitol today to urge lawmakers to stop a proposed tax on the state's health care system. The $300 million new tax on doctors and their practices was approved by a single vote in the State House on Oct. 6 and is the subject of a public hearing before a State Senate committee scheduled for today.

The doctors in Lansing today represent the 15,000-member Michigan State Medical Society, the 7,000-member Michigan Osteopathic Association and more than 30 other specialty societies and county medical societies opposing the effort to tax the state's health care system.

"As America debates reforming our health care system, Lansing is working to tax it. What's wrong with this picture?" said MSMS president Richard E. Smith, MD, a Detroit obstetrician/gynecologist. "This tax would hurt patients' access to doctors in communities all across our state. The State House was wrong to pass it; the State Senate will do right by stopping it."

The rally at the Capitol grew out of physicians' frustration with Michigan's elected leadership's failure to appropriately fund the Medicaid program to ensure access to care for Michigan's most at risk residents and, instead, create a new tax on Michigan's vulnerable health care system.

In addition, physicians noted this new tax would:

"For decades, physicians have fought tirelessly to protect Medicaid funding in every aspect, regardless of reimbursement issues," said MOA president Donna R. Moyer, DO. "Even as Medicaid reimbursement continued to plummet over the past three decades, it was the physician groups like MOA and MSMS that battled to protect services and eligibility for Michigan's most vulnerable patients. Another tax on the health care system is another tax on Michigan's patients - and that's something this state simply cannot afford at a time like this."

-- Drive physicians and their practices out of Michigan, reducing access to care for all patients; -- Discourage young doctors from setting up practices in Michigan; -- Be the only tax of its kind recently passed by any state: three others have tried a similar tax and it's been rescinded in Kentucky, being phased out in West Virginia and in court in Minnesota; -- Be the third general tax imposed on doctors, after the income and the Michigan Business Tax already paid by physicians; and -- Force physicians to lay-off essential staff including nurses, office administrators or billing personnel, further reducing access to care and adding to Michigan's unemployment rate. -- Not be a long-term solution to Michigan's chronically under-funded Medicaid program.

SOURCE Michigan State Medical Society
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