Friday, February 15, 2008

Medicare - “Something is Rotten in The State of Denmark.” Shakespeare: Hamlet

The other day the mailman brought a giant postcard from the AMA bearing this message on its front side: HAD ENOUGH BROKEN MEDICARE PROMISES? IT’S TIME TO MAKE A HOUSE CALL ON CONGRESS.

And these instructions on its backside:

“On July 1, Medicare physician payments will be cut 10.6 percent unless Congress passes new legislation.

On April 2, join the American Medical Association (AMA) and your physician colleagues from across America to press Congress to provide Medicare payments that reflect increases in medical practice costs. Wear your white coat and join in a rally on Capitol Hill as part of the AMA’s annual National Advocacy Conference.

Your voice, your presence on Capital Hill will send a strong signal this election year that Congress must change its approach to Medicare payments.”

Another Indication

Well said, and another indication there’s something rotten with the state of Medicare in America.

Something is rotten with these 10.6 percent cuts

• When Medicare payments are so low many physicians are forced to turn away new Medicare patients in order to meet payroll and the bottom line.

• When the Medicare budget is the biggest budget within the U.S. government and the fourth biggest budget on the planet, exceeding that of most nations.

• When Congress, Medicare officials and employees, and other government officials refuse to consider 10.6 percent cuts in their own pay, thereby tightening all belts together.

• When the cuts are superimposed upon a widely acknowledged physician shortage of 50.000 doctors exists.

• When the rapidly growing Medicare population, soon to be fueled by aging baby boomers, is already having trouble gaining access to care.

• When the cuts impact directly and negatively on the dwindling numbers of primary care physicians – – usually the first to see and treat Medicare patients.

• When it is widely known and a historical reality that health plans covering non-Medicare patients and Medicare patients with supplemental plans follow Medicare reimbursements patterns in lockstep.

• When Medicare is the Sheriff of the System, and everybody feels obligated to follow the man with the badge.

• When physicians are forced to come year by year, even month by month, with hands held out to beg for sufficient pay to meet relentless increases in the costs of providing care, due in part, to mounting federal regulations.

Physicians are not beggars. We are highly trained professionals trying to make a difference in the lives of our patients while trying to make a living.

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