The 21.2% Medicare cuts to all providers have been put off again. The new deadline is now March 31st. CMS is mandated to adjust the physician’s Medicare fee schedule annually. In the past, adjustments have been either cuts or increases of less than 5%. However, in early 2009 the Obama Administration released a budget for 2010 which eliminated the SGR or sustainable growth rate formula which is used to determine the physicians pay rates for Medicare part B.
There is much controversy over the SGR. Many don’t like the formula which has calculated cuts every year since 2002. Congress has usually stepped in each year to try to intervene. However, this year, by eliminating the SGR we are faced with cuts of originally 21.5%. After some political jockeying it is down to 21.2%. Personally, I don’t think many physicians are impressed with the .3% that they’ve managed to save.
Since there is so much talk about this extremely large cut, the Senate voted on December 18th to delay the cuts to February 28th, buying time for Congress to intervene. However, nothing was done to avert the cuts. They have now voted again to delay the cuts to March 31st.
There are always those out there who think “Drs make enough money! They can afford the cuts!” What they don’t realize is that doctors do not get reimbursed outrageous amounts for their services and they have a lot of expenses involved in running an office.
I think this can be a catastrophe for the older population. Doctors are already fed up with the cuts from the past 8 yrs. They are getting tired of the rules and hoops. With a cut as big as 21.2% many providers have already expressed that they will not be able to continue treating Medicare patients, and new providers will not enroll in Medicare. Some providers have already began the process of opting out of the Medicare and others will follow out of fear.
With an aging population, this will be devastating. Medicare patients will not have as many options when choosing providers, and will have long waiting times in receiving care. There will be more people eligible for Medicare and fewer doctors to treat them.
We will just have to keep watching to see what Congress is going to do to avert this catastrophe.