Congressional Dysfunction Threatens Seniors Health Care…..Yet Again

Most seniors have never heard of the acronym SGR that in healthcare parlance means Sustainable Growth Rate.

The wisdom of congress passed this particular piece of legislation in 1997.  Its purpose was to control the cost of Medicare through a complex formula that controlled escalating costs.

The problem is simple; it doesn’t work and has really never worked.  Congress however, has never been able to come to grips with it and continues to pass “kick the can down the road” legislation rather than fixing it.  In 2010 alone, the proverbial can was kicked five times.

We now find ourselves staring down the barrel of a gun once again.  If congress doesn’t act by the end of March, Medicare reimbursements to doctors will be cut by 21%.

What does this mean?  Docs won’t be happy, in fact they have about had it with Medicare as evidenced by a growing group of them who will no longer accept Medicare.

A colleague of ours voiced his thoughts recently.  It went something like this….”I began to accept Medicare even though I felt their reimbursement rate was low and didn’t properly compensate me for my time and expenses.  However, they paid promptly and didn’t harass me with a million questions about why I used one treatment versus another” He has since changed his mind.  His comments now complain that reimbursement, which was never fair, has been reduced.  He now receives letters from Medicare questioning his judgment, and he is facing not just another cut, but a long delay in receiving anything.  He has had it and will not longer accept Medicare patients.

If congress fails to act (again) by March 31st, doctor’s treating Medicare patients will face a 21% reduction in their reimbursement rate.  Could you afford a 21% pay cut.

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