Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act
What is it and What Can I Do?
For more than a dozen years, physicians who participate in the Medicare Program have repeatedly faced looming cuts to their payment for services. During that time there have been sixteen costly patches, often referred to as the “doc patch” that have deferred enactment of a permanent solution to this flawed system. The US Congress has continued to kick this can down the road due to political interests at the cost of the taxpayers. In essence, these costly patches are the equivalent of paying the monthly minimum on a credit card balance, while never getting to the underlying poor fiscal policy revisions that are needed.
Now, however, there is bipartisan support for change, yet still many in Congress want to play games. After spending over one hundred fifty billion dollars with patches, it will now cost less to permanently repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula then to continue with last minute temporary patches. Without intervention, on April 1, 2014, physicians face an average across the board payment cut of 24%.
Here in South Florida, where we have a large population of senior citizens on the Medicare program, this payment cut will certainly result in many doctors dropping their participation in Medicare with a resultant shortage of physicians who are willing to see patients at the inappropriately low reimbursement rate. Patients will certainly feel the squeeze as their own doctors will no longer accept their insurance. Along with the projected physician shortage over the next twenty years, this will be a very hard pill for patients to swallow.
So what is there to do? Contact your Congressmen/women and urge them to support the bipartisan bills that have been developed in both the House and Senate and are supported by the physician community. Tell them that you want a clean bill without strings attached and one that will appeal to a bipartisan Congress. These bills that are currently available (HR 4015/S 2000) were worked by all three healthcare committees that have jurisdiction over Medicare in Congress. Commonly known as the “SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act”, this is the answer to reform a very bad system, and to help insure that patients will continue to have a choice of many physicians in South Florida.