Thursday, July 9, 2009

Health Care Reform Medicare Payments

The views expressed in this blog are my own personal opinions and do not represent the view's  of Cottonwood nor it's administration.

The American Academy of Neurologists has sent a letter to Congress about some concerns regarding any health care reform. What they indicated in their letter is similar to what I have been saying on this blog, that current Medicare reimbursement is inadequate and undervalues many specialties. The letter was also signed off on by the American Society of Hematology, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the American College of Rheumatology and the American Gastroentrological Association.

You might initially think that this is just some whining by doctors who make enough anyway, why should they be asking for more when we are at a time of cutbacks? But it is not whining. It is stating the reality that in today's medicine procedures are highly reimbursed while time spent with patients is not. I want to emphasize that. Time spent with patients is not adequately reimbursed, not under Medicare and certainly will not be under any Medicare like public health plan. We all want our doctors to take time for us, and these are specialties where time spent with patients is essential not only for diagnosis but for ongoing management of often difficult serious chronic diseases. A neurologist, hematologist, immunologist, or a rheumatologist cannot continue to support a practice at current Medicare reimbursement rates. It is as simple as that. We pay highly for any surgery or specialized procedures but not for taking time with patients.

This reality is not lost upon young physicians who simply are not entering these fields of medicine. Why would they? I think that the letter sent to Congress was a good idea and clearly states the problem but I don't anticipate any reimbursement rates under Medicare going up any time soon.

Thought for the day

If you won't pay for it you won't have it.

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