Physicians unsettled by temporary doc fix

In case you missed it, Congress approved a doc-fix measure last Friday that will avert the scheduled 27.4 percent Medicare cut to physicians, but only until the end of the year.

With the relief once again short-term, many physicians are fed up with the uncertainty. "'Disgruntled' is probably just too soft of a term for this," Robert Wah, a reproductive endocrinologist at the National Institutes of Health and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, told National Public Radio. Wah is also chairman of the board of trustees of the American Medical Association. "It's really devastating to try to run an office in this environment."

One major concern of the AMA and others is that physicians, without a sustainable payment solution, will cease participation in Medicare, thus limiting seniors' access to care. Although the Office of Inspector General recently stated in a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that it did not have enough data to determine how many doctors are dropping out of the program, Medicare patients in some regions already are having difficulty finding physicians. A recent report out of Colorado, for example, reveals that up to two-thirds of the state's physicians are currently refusing or limiting new Medicare patients.

The key hurdle thwarting repeal of the sustainable growth rate formula is lack of political agreement on how to pay its ever-escalating cost. After months of battle, the measure passed Friday, which also extends a payroll tax cut for 160 million workers, will add $100 billion to the U.S. deficit, Reuters reported.

To learn more:
- read the article from Reuters
- check out the article from National Public Radio
- see the article from Colorado Public News