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Medicare physicians seek permanent SGR fix
e-Reports, June 14, 2010
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Join the ISMA and other physician organizations in a petition for a new Medicare payment formula; follow ISMA updates on Medicare pay rate changes at www.ismanet.org.

Indiana named a “Hot Spot”
Indiana is one of 21 states and the District of Columbia that made the AMA’s “Access Hot Spots” list, showing areas where patients already face problems getting physician care. Compared to the rest of the country, Indiana, at 14 percent, has an above-average proportion of Medicare patients. And our state’s ratio of 15 physicians per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries is also well below the national average.

Among residents here, 7.8 percent live in a designated primary care shortage area and 24 percent of the state’s Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and over live below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

AMA online survey results
A new AMA online survey of more than 9,000 Medicare physicians revealed about one in five physicians overall (17%) are currently restricting the number of Medicare patients in their practice. Top two reasons are:*

  • Medicare payment rates are too low (85%)
  • Ongoing threat of future payment cuts makes Medicare an unreliable payer (78%)

Looking at primary care physicians,**nearly one-third (31%) currently restrict the number of Medicare patients in their practice.

If Congress enacts a 4-7 month Medicare pay freeze with a 21% pay cut, physicians say they will:

  • Restrict the number of Medicare patients they treat (54%)
  • Stop taking new Medicare patients (50%)
  • Stop taking any Medicare patients (31%)

Find complete survey results visit the AMA website.

*Physicians in this survey were asked to check all answers that apply.

**Primary care is defined as family practice, general practice, internal medicine, and obstetrics/gynecology.

The Senate left Washington before Memorial Day without addressing Medicare’s 21 percent physician rate cut. At presstime, the rate cut that took effect June 1 was still law.

Medicare carriers, on orders from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services were in a 10-day hold pattern on claims for services delivered after June 1. And across the nation, physicians, their elderly patients and military families insured by TRICARE were anxious about the future.

But now Congress is back and the ISMA can help you deliver this message: A permanent Medicare pay formula fix is needed – but also a short-term halt to the June 1 pay cut.

Action you can take
If you have not registered your opposition to the 21 percent cut, call Indiana’s senators today at (888) 434-6200. Tell them how Medicare patients depend on you to be there for them and how difficult it is to keep your medical practice operating amid constant threats of reimbursement cuts.

Go online to sign the nationwide petition that urges Congress to develop a rational Medicare physician payment system that automatically keeps up with the cost of running a practice and is backed by a fair, stable funding formula. Visit www.ismanet.org and urge your staff, family and patients to add their names.

To date, more than 100,000 signatures have been collected nationwide, and about 2,400 Hoosiers have added their names. Print copies of the petition here; then fax the signatures to the ISMA at (317) 261-2076.

A familiar scenario
Three times this year Congress missed a deadline, causing a Medicare physician pay cut to take effect. The latest temporary fix voted on by the House at the end of May would implement a 2.2 percent payment update for the remainder of 2010 and a 1 percent update for 2011. In 2012, the SGR formula would resume, with an estimated 33 percent pay cut for that year. The Senate may make its own changes to this proposal.

Meanwhile, the AMA unveiled a multi-million dollar ad campaign urging people to contact their Senators about Medicare. Check TV, radio and the nation’s newspapers for their message.

“Each time Congress delays fixing the Medicare physician payment cut makes the problem worse and the price tag higher for the American taxpayer,” said AMA President J. James Rohack, M.D. “Enough is enough.”

The ISMA will send e-Alerts as the SGR situation changes. If you are not signed up to receive e-mail news from the ISMA, send an e-mail to Vicki Riley and ask to be included.

Copyright: Information written and displayed on www.ismanet.org is the property of ISMA and may not be reproduced without expressed written permission of the Indiana State Medical Association.

For a more detailed sitemap click here.