Friday, May 28, 2010

Medicare Pay Cut

Throughout this year physicians have been awaiting a reduction in Medicare reimbursement rates. The cut is 23% across the board which has been scheduled for a long time. Each month Congress has passed temporary legislation to postpone the cut until some longer term solution could be found regarding Medicare reimbursement rates but this month Congress failed to pass an agreement prior to the Memorial Day recess so the cuts are scheduled to begin June 1.

So what's the big deal? Aren't doctors paid too much anyway? The problem with this cut is that Medicare rates for those specialties who don't do surgery or other expensive procedures has been too low to begin with. As I have noted before, particularly for psychiatrists, low Medicare reimbursement rates make it difficult for doctors to meet expenses. This applies as well to the specialties of family medicine, internal medicine, neurology, and rheumatology. A 21% cut in reimbursement rates will make it very difficult for many physicians to not lose money for every Medicare patient seen. There is no question that many physicians will respond by just not seeing anymore Medicare patients. The same will apply for military families covered by TRICARE which bases its fee schedule on Medicare rates.

My hope is that some other solution will be found quickly. Decreased access to care is just what we don't need with an aging population.

Thought for the day

"My chains are gone.I've been set free. My God my savior has ransomed me".

Chris Tomlin

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