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OhioChick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-29-06 05:58 AM
Original message
Medicare cuts worry docs, seniors
Friday, September 29, 2006
By Sarah Kellogg
Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- If Congress doesn't act this fall to stop a planned cut in Medicare payment rates, some U.S. doctors, including those in Michigan, may be forced to stop taking or completely drop some of their elderly and disabled Medicare patients.

That's what the nation's top physician groups told a U.S. House subcommittee Thursday as they encouraged lawmakers to halt the 5.1 percent rate cut slated for Jan. 1 and the reductions planned every year after that through 2015.

"The Medicare physician payment system is broken," said Dr. Cecil Wilson, chairman of the board of the American Medical Association, the nation's largest doctors group. "Physicians face drastic Medicare payment cuts of about 40 percent over the next nine years, while costs increase about 20 percent."

Senior groups are worried, too.

http://www.mlive.com/news/statewide/index.ssf?/base/new...

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izzie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-29-06 06:05 AM
Response to Original message
1. I hope I make the eye operation before this goes.
My doctor said I am not ready yet and I bet the operation cost a pretty penny. My son was in hospital and part, yes part of the bill was over 60,ooo. We never saw the rest of the bill. And that was 7 years ago.
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WePurrsevere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-29-06 06:23 AM
Response to Original message
2. This disabled lady is worried to. We recently moved into an area where
there is a shortage of doctors (a crack down happened just after we moved here) add to that fact that there are even less doctors that are willing to accept Medicare and my husand and I haven't been able to find a new doctor yet.

If we can't find a doctor and have to use the local ER instead why the heck are we paying what will be almost $100. a month EACH (Plan B) for something we can't use (and rarely have anyway since there's not much we're willing to be guinie pigs for and we only go to a doctor for other basic or chiropractic health care a few times a year.) Although I'd like to tell the RW gov/politicians to shove Medicare up their collective backsides being "middle age" we tend to worry about catastrophic health problems down the road (I've heard getting back on Plan B is a PITA). There is another possibilty though, we need to find out if I transfer over under his SSD as a disabled dependent. Years ago the case worker mentioned that possibility (since my benefits are rather low) but our children were still small and it made more sense to leave me on my own at that point. If we can still do that I think I'd also go under his Medicare as a dependant like the children did (and spouses do with retired spouses)... that would keep more, and very needed, money in our pocket at least.
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-29-06 08:29 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. the US is short on family practice docs and this will make it worse.
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WePurrsevere Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-29-06 04:39 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. I just came home from the ER after deeply slicing my finger. When asked
Edited on Fri Sep-29-06 04:40 PM by WePurrsevere
who my doctor is I told them we don't have one yet and have had no luck finding one. They suggested that we check out the local (rural) clinics. Apparently most of them are an offshoot of that hospital, are not high cost and will even take walk-ins, those that are not affiliated are the same way. If this nasty cold I have doesn't get out of my lungs soon I'll be checking them out. It sounds like they may be our only option.

There certainly is a shortage. When I lived downstate it wasn't a problem since there were lots of doctors and hospitals down there. Up here in rural northern NY it's sadly very obvious how bad it is although I've heard it's getting better. This county is really working to bring more up here as well as working with local doctors and pharmacies to offer reduced medical and Rx costs for the county residents.
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mom cat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-29-06 12:10 PM
Response to Original message
4. I am getting my hip replaced soon while I still can.
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sarcasmo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-29-06 04:37 PM
Response to Original message
5. Looks like not only will Social Security be gone, but Medicare might
be gone as well. I guess it's time to make sure I enjoy my forty's and fifties.
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harpboy_ak Donating Member (437 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-30-06 03:44 AM
Response to Original message
7. Docs in Alaska declining Medicare patients
Edited on Sat Sep-30-06 03:47 AM by harpboy_ak
This has been written up extenisively in the Anchorage daily news, both in stories and in numerous letters to the editor. When patients go on Medicare, docs stop seeing them, sometimes folks that have been patients for 20 years!

And most retirement health insurance, including that from state and federal employees, makes you have Medicare Part B as your primary insurance, which means that docs can't charge the (already discounted) rates negotiated by insurance companies, they have to charge the Medicare rate, which has fees far below the cost for doctors to provide the services, even if your insurance would otherwise cover the procedure and pay a reasonable rate.

It's worse in Alaska because all our rates and costs for medical services are higher, and we have a doctor shortage almost everywhere. Office visits here cost about twice Seattle rates, and other services are also much higher.

It's rapidly approaching a crisis here, and it may force a lot of retirees to leave Alaska.

This is the Repuke outfall of the tax cuts for the rich --- they cut Medicare reimbursement rates and the total amount appropriated for Part D at the same time, as if inflation doesn't exist. Dammit, these folks paid for SS and Medicare all their working lives, and now it's being taken away by the congressional Repukes!

Tnis is one of the few times I've agreed with the AMA --- if they don't raise the rates and appropriate more of our stolen trust fund money spent on Iraq for the growing number of folks (wait about 5 years, when my leading edge born in '45 and '46 all go on Medicare) we will have a crisis.

F*** congressional Repukes that did this, and F*** the insurance companies who weren't forced to remain the primary carriers for those with health insurance after retirement!
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Mountainman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-30-06 07:45 AM
Response to Original message
8. I am a controller at a medical clinic, I see us getting less and less
Edited on Sat Sep-30-06 07:55 AM by Mountainman
money for the same services. Here is the situation. The costs are the doctor's salaries, the RNs', LVNs', PAs', MAs' salaries, the medications and medical supplies and equipment, the operating supplies and the overhead costs such as billing and administration, maintenance, utilities, facilities costs. As the amount paid by medicare decreases we are forced to cut the costs on everything but the doc's salaries. It is getting harder and harder for us to replace the doc's that leave to find greener pastures. We can't afford to pay what the replacement doc's want. They usually want about $50,000 for relocation, another $50,000 interest free loan to buy a house, a guaranteed salary of anywhere between $150,000 to $250,000 depending on their specialty and they want to make their own schedules such as coming in at 11:00 AM till 4:00 PM 3 days a week. They don't see enough patients to cover their salaries.

We have cut non medical costs as much as we can and there is a limit. The biggest problem with health care is that doc's and pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies see it as a gravy train yet the base who are able to pay for it is shrinking. There will come a reckoning soon.

I get so stressed every day trying to pay the costs and get reimbursed from payers! The medical suppliers want to be paid within 30 days yet we have to wait months to get reimbursed sometimes when insurance companies deny claims and make us fight for what they agreed to pay in their contracts. This month Medical says they will not pay us during the last week of Sept. Medicare and Medicaid take their good old time processing claims. I have payroll to make twice a week and it gets harder and harder each month.
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