Medicare Cuts = patient hardships

Medicare Set-Aside Blog on November 2, 2009
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It appears that 2010 could certainly be a troubling year for many physicians, especially those whose practices are primarily directed to Medicare beneficiaries.    A scheduled 21% cut in Medicare reimbursement rates to physicians is looming as the Senate voted last week against stopping that cut, as well as more annual cuts over the next decade. posted an article yesterday summarizing the plights of several physicians who want to continue to treat Medicare patients but will not be able to cover the expenses associated with doing so if the planned cuts are made.  In fact, in cities such as Las Vegas and Anchorage, Alaska, Medicare beneficiaries are already finding that they are often unable to secure physicians’ services.   What’s happening in Vegas may not stay in Vegas this time but may actually be a prelude to what’s to come in other cities next year.


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services  (CMS) weighed in on the subject and noted that its data actually supports the finding that there is only a small percentage of current Medicare beneficiaries that are unable to obtain physician care at this time.  CMS referenced a Government Accountability Office  (GAO) report that revealed less than 3% of Medicare beneficiaries reported “major difficulties” when trying to obtain treatment from physicians in 2007 and 2008.   While Congress has blocked cuts in physicians’ reimbursement rates in recent years, Federal statutes require that an annual adjustment be made to these rates based on the strength of the economy.  As more seniors become Medicare eligible and the economic outlook continues to be uncertain, healthcare reform agendas need to address this issue while preserving the quality and availability of medical care to our seniors and others who receive Medicare benefits.


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