Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Doctor is Out for Medicare Patients

Breaking news tonight that in a last minute shocker, the Senate voted today against postponing a scheduled 21% cut in Medicare reimbursement to physicians and other health providers.  60 senators were needed to end filibuster debate and stop the cuts under Senate rules.  Fifty-six voted in favor, with 40 opposed. There was no Republican support. (And, of course, no support from Senator Lieberman, who is a Republican in disguise).   Another consequence of the vote is that tens of thousands of Americans who have exhausted their jobless benefits would not be eligible for more.  In addition, new taxes on wealthy investment managers would not be imposed, along with an increase in liability taxes on oil companies, leading Democrats to contend that Republicans were protecting Wall Street and the oil industry, according to the New York Times.

“We’re not going to give up,” said Senator Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat and majority leader. “We know the American people only have us to depend on.”  

Medicare has been holding all claims from June until today, pending the action that was "supposed" to reverse this 21% mind blowing decrease.  Now that the vote is in, they will pay the claims retroactively at the lower rate.

This is really bad news for seniors.  Thirty one% of  primary care physicians surveyed by the AMA said they would not accept new Medicare patients if the cuts went through.  I predict much worse.   A 21% cut is the death knell for doctors who have a lot of Medicare patients.  Last month Medicare paid me $84.00 for a 99213 office visit.  That was already unsustainable and the only way anyone stays in business is by seeing other patients with better payment.  The new payment will be $66.36.   Hello bankruptcy court.

Stay tuned for an outcry from organized medicine and a flight of physicians away from the Medicare program.  The payment volatility of these government programs is leaving the health of our nation in critical condition.

16 comments:

KM said...

This is horrible news for everyone involved and those of us in the future. It just keeps getting worse, and worse causing more frightening situations. I have known a number of doctors who have not taken new Medicare patients for years. It would be very upsetting if my doctor's office had to close due to this!!
This really puts physicians in a terrible position!

As bad as this is I'm glad you wrote about, because some people don't realize how bad and unfairly it affects their doctors when they get a letter they are no longer taking long time Medicare patients.

Anonymous said...

I think we need to demand that our congress opt out of its current healthcare plan and put itself into the private mix. Perhaps when the Medicare-eligible are searching for a Dr to accept them into their practice it would bring the reality home. It is a travesty. It is an insane, unsustainable business model. Physicians do, however, hold the last card.

Anonymous said...

Do you really get $84 from Medicare for a 99213? I practice in an urban East Coast location, and get $55. I guess I'm bankrupt and didn't kow it!

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