MGMA: Practices prepping for SGR 'train wreck'

If the proposed 29.9 percent cut to physician Medicare reimbursement goes through in 2012, the vast majority of physician practices say they will not be able to maintain current levels of access for new Medicare patients, according to results from a survey released by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) on Monday.

According to the survey of more than 2,000 practices respresenting more than 93,000 physicians, a mere 16 percent--out of the 95 percent who said they currently participate in Medicare--predict they'll be able to maintain the status quo post-cuts. More than half (51 percent) of the practices surveyed said they would reduce available appointments for new Medicare patients, and 33 percent expressed uncertainty about how the cuts could affect the patients they serve.

The scope of practices' contingency plans to cope with the cuts expands beyond access to Medicare patients. In particular, about 69 percent said they would delay buying new equipment or facilities, and more than half said they would cut clinical or administrative staff or reduce their salaries, DOTmed News reports. According to the MGMA report, 65 percent of practices surveyed already have delayed buying new equipment, and 52 percent have reduced charity care amid the uncertainty surrounding the cuts dictated by the current sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.

"Our data reflects a dire Medicare environment for physician practices," Turney said. "The five short-term congressional patches last year substantially diminished practices' faith in Congress and the stability of the Medicare program. This time, practices are not waiting to implement tough business decisions. The SGR is a runaway train that threatens the future of Medicare. It's time for Congress to step up, repeal the SGR and avert the train wreck right around the corner."

To learn more:
- read the article from DOTmed News
see the press release from MGMA