Medicare Fee Cuts Have Devastating Impact on Availability of Care
Many senior citizens across the country are facing a terrifying outlook on the availability of quality healthcare. Already the lowest reimbursing health insurance carrier, Medicare is cutting physician fee schedules by more than 20% across the board. The end result may be catastrophic for those that have no other option.
In an effort to rein in costs, congress has approved this measure without giving much consideration to the end result. Physicians in all specialties are faced with the task of absorbing these cuts in order to continue to treat patients desperately in need of quality care. Meanwhile, seniors are facing the reality that their doctors may no longer offer treatment to Medicare patients.
Many people believe that doctors sit on the golf course while earning millions of dollars per year. Although this may have once been a reality, I can assure you that this is no longer the case. Physicians and healthcare professionals in most specialties have been facing the reality of shrinking profit margins year after year. The constantly evolving insurance reimbursement process has made it more and more difficult for physicians to receive payments for services they’ve already performed. With the growing cost of malpractice insurance, overhead, and billing expenses one can see how difficult it has become to run a profitable medical practice.
With costs rising and reimbursements declining, how can we expect healthcare providers to handle a 20% reduction in reimbursement? Many specialties rely entirely on Medicare patients to keep their practice afloat. These certainly are not the highest grossing doctors in the nation. If physicians can no longer afford to treat Medicare patients, where will seniors go for the treatments they need? How will they manage to stay healthy without regular visits to the doctor? These issues must be addressed in a timely fashion or seniors and healthcare providers will be hung out to dry! Although there certainly is a need to control the spiraling cost of healthcare, squeezing physicians and seniors can’t be the only option. How could we let this happen while insurance companies are profiting billions per year?
The president of the American Medical Association, Dr. Cecil Wilson has recently spoken out against these cuts. He’s calling for a thirteen month reprieve to allow for the opportunity to come up with different alternatives. Hospitals, physicians, and pharmaceutical companies all oppose cuts to the fee schedule. We will have to wait and see if the powers that be will allow this atrocity to take place.