HealthCare Article 23 June 2011
Access to Health Care for Seniors and Military Families is Seriously Threatened
Across the United States including Nevada, Medicare beneficiaries and TriCare members are finding it increasingly difficult to locate a doctor. According to recent American Medical Association survey data nearly one in five physicians says they have already been forced to limit the number of Medicare patients in their practice. Nearly one-third of primary care physicians have limited their availability to seniors and military families.
The top two reasons physicians gave for these actions were the ongoing threat of future cuts and the fact that Medicare payment rates were already too low. MedPAC estimates that over the past 10 years medical practices’ actual net income has decreased by 22%.
Compared to the rest of the country, Nevada, at 17 practicing physicians per 1,000 beneficiaries, has a below-average ratio of physicians to Medicare beneficiaries so the risk of reduced physician access for seniors is even greater here.
Each year for the past decade, physicians have faced steep payment cuts that make it harder and harder for them to be able to afford to care for their Medicare patient.
Congress is aware of the problem – offering patches – 12 in eight years. But the patches have only postponed fee schedule reductions mandated by legislative formula. If the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule method-ology is not changed, physicians face a 21.3% payment reduction December 1, 2010 and an additional 6.1% January 1, 2011.
Physicians want to be able to care for seniors and military families, but chronic instability caused by the continuing threat of payment cuts has already taken its toll, and a further 21.3 plus 6.1 percent cut will force many doctors to limit or entirely discontinue seeing more Medicare and TriCare members.
Your voice is important. Help your doctor continue to be able to care for the medical needs of Medicare seniors, Medicare-eligible disabled, and TriCare military members.
Urge members of Congress to…
SUPPORT A FAIR AND PERMANENT FIX TO THE MEDICARE PHYSICIAN FEE SCHEDULE
Contact information for Nevada’s senators and representatives is available through the FEDERAL ELECTED OFFICIALS link at Nevada’s State website: www.nv.gov.