A 10 percent cut is currently planned for Medicare reimbursement. The American Medical Association (AMA) conducted a survey of physicians to gauge the possibility impact this might have on Medicare patients' access to care that paints a “bleak picture.”
"The AMA is deeply concerned by the alarming news that 60 percent of America's physicians will be forced to limit the number of new Medicare patients they will be able to care for next year when Medicare cuts physician payments," said AMA Board Chair Cecil B. Wilson, MD.
Congress' own advisory committee on Medicare, MedPAC, has recommended that Congress stop next year's 10 percent cut and update payments 1.7 percent. This change would be in line with practice cost increases.
The AMA said it urges Congress to enact legislation now that will replace the looming cuts with Medicare payment updates based on practice costs.
AMA warns that the 10 percent cut is just the beginning of troubles for Medicare recipients. Over nine years the cuts total about 40 percent, while the government estimates that the cost of caring for patients will increase 20 percent. Over the life of the cuts, 77 percent of physicians say they will be forced to limit the number of new Medicare patients they treat, AMA said.
"As physicians brace for nine years of steep payment cuts, it will be extremely difficult for them to continue accepting new Medicare patients into their practices," said Wilson. "The baby boomers begin entering the program in 2010, and the Medicare cuts increase the likelihood that there may not be enough doctors to care for the huge influx of new Medicare patients."
To learn more about AMA’s efforts, visit: www.patientsactionnetwork.org.