A new study predicts a reform President Bush is seeking in the Medicare program will restrict options for Iowa seniors. Seventy-one-year-old Robert Reuter of Waterloo says the study shows Iowa seniors would have their choice of doctors restricted. Reuter says Bush’s proposal to have Medicare pay for prescription drugs would only have the government pay for prescriptions that are written by doctors who’re part of a “preferred provider” network, and Reuter says it’s critical that folks get to choose the doctor they want rather than being forced to use one who’s on a list. Reuter says if you’re forced to see a doctor you can’t communicate with or in whom you have no confidence, your recovery time will lag. If Medicare recipients must choose only doctors in the so-called “preferred provider networks,” Reuter says rural Iowans will find it even more difficult to find a doctor Reuter says it would reduce the choices significantly for seniors in rural Iowa. The study from the group “Public Citizen” studied “preferred provider” networks in 23 Iowa counties, and found in nearly every county the number of doctors treating Medicare patients was much greater than the number of doctors who were part of a “preferred provider” network. The counties studied were Adair, Benton, Black Hawk, Buena Vista, Cedar, Clay, Davis, Dubuque, Fremont, Hancock, Humboldt, Jefferson, Lee, Madison, Mitchell, O’Brien, Pocahontas, Polk, Sac, Tama, Warren, Winneshiek, Woodbury. In the three urban counties of Polk, Woodbury and Black Hawk, only the numbers of cardiac and oncology specialists were examined.
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