The Doctor Is Out
A couple of years ago, every doctor my family used suddenly stopped scheduling us for appointments, didn't return phone calls asking why, and generally were less than cooperative. It took a while to discover the reason for this, but it turned out that the group all of our doctors belonged to decided that they weren't going to accept our low-ball insurace payments even if it was going to cost them patients.
Luckily, we were able to find other doctors who weren't fed up with dealing with our insurance provider (a notorious off-shoring outsourcer, by the way!), and in fact found some we liked better than the ones we had.
We had options. What are these folks going to face?
The AMA has laid out the prospect of a major exodus of physicians from Medicare if Congress doesn't rescind or modify plans to cut Part B payments to physicians by 4.4% next January. AMA officers said today that they expect about a third of physicians to stop accepting new Medicare patients if the pay cut goes into effect on New Year's Day.
Compassionate conservatism, indeed!
Medicare payments to physicians will be cut by 26% by 2012, said AMA president J. Edward Hill, M.D., of Tupelo, Miss. Dr. Hill said that an AMA survey of 5,486 physicians found that 38% said they would decrease the number of new Medicare patients they accept, and 18% said they would cut the number of established Medicare patients they treat.
The doctors have some reasons that our 'business executive' government should definitely understand:
* 61% said a 5% Medicare pay cut would force them to delay purchase of new medical equipment * 57% said they would spend less time with Medicare patients * 54% said they would defer purchase of information technology * 52% said they would refer complex cases * 46% said they cut back on office staff
Dr. Hill said, "We are getting a lot of sympathy, but sympathy and support don't translate into action," he said, "We've got to have action to stop these cuts because this is really going to be a patient access issue."
Just another sign that America's medical system is on life support and Bu$hCo is seeking to turn it off for us Ninety-Niners.
Doctors are the very sort of small business that Bu$hCo claims to be supporting, but one has to wonder if they ever intend to walk that talk. Their grandiose big government never saw a large corporation that they didn't prefer to a smaller, independently-owned privately-held firm. After all - Bill Frist's HCA has to be preferred to Doctor Smalltime's local office because HCA can offer larger campaign contributions.
Who cares if the patients of HCA get inferior care? Look at all the money the Frist family saved! Enough to buy a Senate seat!
In my opinion, Medicare keeps many doctors in business. To lose it now will cost us all. Maybe fatally.