urged Senate Republicans
Saturday to go along with legislation preventing a looming 21 percent reduction in Medicare
reimbursements for doctors. But the president also said he realized that "simply kicking these cuts down the road another year is not a long-term solution to this problem."
In his weekly address
, Obama said doctors would face cuts of more than one-fifth in Medicare payments this week unless the Senate
agrees to defer the lower reimbursement formula, as it has since 2003. The reduced payment schedule, put in place a decade ago, was an attempt to slow the rapid growth in Medicare costs, but it proved unrealistic.
Obama said a majority in the Senate is "willing to prevent" the pay cut this year, but "some Senate Republicans may even block a vote
on this issue" -- that is, filibuster to delay an up-or-down vote on final passage. The lower payments, he said could lead doctors "to stop participating in the Medicare program. And that could lead seniors to lose their doctors."
In the future, the president said, he wants to "take the difficult steps necessary to lower the cost of Medicare and put our budget
on a more fiscally sustainable path. But I'm not willing to do that by punishing hard-working physicians or the millions of Americans who count on Medicare. That's just wrong."