Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Reduced Medicare Payments Begin in January
Anyone who has dealt with health insurance knows that many doctors, including my former GP, will not take Medicare/Medicaid patients. (Or HMO patients, but that’s another story.)

Why?

Currently, the amount a doctor receives for seeing a patient on Medicare is determined by the Geographic Practice Cost Index, or GPCI. The index considers how much it costs to do business in a particular region, including rent and staffing costs.

San Diego County is indexed along with 47 other urban and rural areas. Yes, San Diego is factored in with Napa, Sonoma and the High Sierras. When lower costs in rural areas are balanced with higher local costs, the a payout for all doctors in the index is 5.5% less than the actual cost of doing business in San Diego County.

San Diego County is one of 175 counties in 32 states being paid between 5% and 14% less than their individual county cost factors warrant.

Who makes the decision on how this works? Congress. Yes, those buffoons in Washington who allow their favorite lobbyists to write the bills that become our laws. Congress doesn’t want to change the status quo either on anything related to  Medicare. For one, in order to give money back to those underpaid doctors, they would have to take funds from those doctors in rural areas who are overpaid. Secondly, they are focused on their health care bill right now. Medicare is for old people who are going to die soon anyway. Right?

The AMA and several groups of doctors have been pressing Congress to approve higher  payments for doctors treating Medicare patients, but the politicians are too busy trying to get their 2 trillion dollar healthcare bill passed – which Medicare is not a part of.

Harry Reid agreed to push the $247 billion “doc fix” bill through the Senate and then backed down.

The bill to avert scheduled cuts in physicians’ Medicare fees over the next decade failed to pass.

What does this mean?

According to the AMA, a 21% reduction to Medicare will begin in January, and by about 5% in each of the next few years. When such cuts occur, fewer doctors will accept Medicare patients.

The Medicare provision was pushed out of the health care bill because the democrats were afraid the extra cost would make their bill look too costly.

A senior Democratic leadership aide said it was a necessary political maneuver to preempt a Republican attempt to add the fix to the health reform bill, which would have increased the cost of the bill from $900 billion to $1.2 trillion. And it would have increased the deficit by $200 billion — making it a harder bill for moderate Democrats to support and diminishing its chances of passage.

These are the people we have working for us, folks.

In case you haven’t noticed, they have already started preparing us for health care rationing. Mammograms at 50 instead of 40. No need to self-exam. The federal government has come up with a new panel of healthcare ‘experts’, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force – USPSTF. See: Note.

Last night on 60 Minutes the lead story was about how keeping elderly alive in hospitals is cruel and costly. When you have a terminal illness, they ask you if you want them to use all means to keep you alive. Some people have a very strong will to live. Who are they to decide if someone’s life isn’t worth the money?

When you begin to look for a doctor who will take Medicare patients, you will have a much more difficult time finding one. When you do, be prepared for crowded waiting rooms – after you’ve waited 5 months for an appointment.

Getting old isn’t going to be pretty, folks. You have 2 choices. Get rid of the fools who were voted in and bring in people who will represent YOU – while you still have the right to vote. Or, you can throw in the towel now and take what comes – you’ll welcome your little serotonin uptake inhibitors.

Note:
The USPSTF considered only old data in its analysis and ignored more modern data that provides compelling evidence of a greater benefit from screening.   This data from service screening in Sweden shows that the death rate can be reduced on the order of 40%.

Read article here:  The Mammography Question

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