Here we go again. Physicians are trying to plan for a possible 23 percent Medicare reimbursement cut. Or maybe no cut at all. Physicians are running a business. They have employees, rent, insurance and utilities payments. Make the system too difficult to work with, and they look for options.
From the Associated Press.
“My frustration level is at a nine or 10 right now,” said [breast cancer surgeon Kathryn] Wagner, who practices in San Antonio. “I am exceptionally exhausted with these annual and biannual threats to cut my reimbursement by drastic amounts. As a business person, I can’t budget at all because I have no idea how much money is going to come in. Medicine is a business. Private practice is a business.”
Last summer, when Congress missed the deadline for an extension, Wagner had to tap her line of credit to pay the salaries of her nurses and office staff. Medicare is only a fraction of her practice, but the cancer surgeon said private insurance companies also held up payments waiting to see what would happen. “I didn’t get a check in the mail for almost a month,” she said.
As a doctor, she recognizes there could be grave consequences if she follows through on not taking new Medicare patients. Older women are more likely to have malignant disease than younger patients. “Those are cancers that are waiting at the door,” Wagner said. She would continue to see established patients.
But she’s getting closer and closer to the breaking point with Medicare.
“Stick me with a fork,” said Wagner. “I’m done.”
Ask your personal physician. How do they feel about taking on new Medicare patients? If you are a doctor, what would you do?