Despondent Docs Face Pay Cut

The AMA laid itself on the line and gave the appearance in the crucial legislative days that all doctors supported health reform.  Many doctors personally disagreed with health reform, but AMA’s & doctors’ #1 priority (and payback for giving support) was to undo the 1997 health reform (much ballyhooed at the time as the savior or Medicare) which would impose cuts on Medicare payments to doctors. 

The House, Senate & White House left the “doc fix” out of the law, and pretty much jerked around doctors efforts to get the “fix” (repeal the cuts) in following months.  They got a reprieve until just after the 2010 elections. 

It now appears that because of deficit fears, Congress (presumably the lame duck session) will proceed with the 1997 cuts as of 1/1/11, but cut the docs’ payments only 15% instead of the 26%, and that cuts will continue into the future as envisioned in the 1997 health reform law. 

In a last gasp, AMA is hoping to make the cuts 10% and have Congress allow doctors to balance bill patients.

 As I have predicted before, this slap in the face (and pocket) to doctors coincides with the annual time for doctors to say if they will serve Medicare patients next year, and also a major generational shift of many doctors retiring, it is a pretty scary prospect for a guy like me facing Medicare in a couple of years.

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt of Fred Hunt’s weekly missive issued today.