Brette Liebler: Stunned by Medicare cuts to physicians
Published: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 3:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 3:00 p.m.
I am stunned that Congress failed to put a hold on the 21 percent Medicare SGR formula cut for physicians. I do not think that the average person understands what this means; it is not just about Medicare beneficiaries. Blue Cross and AvMed are two big insurers in the area and they both pay physicians percentages of Medicare, so whatever way Medicare goes, so they go. This means that your physicians do not just get this hit from Medicare, they get it across the board.
I understand there is a concept of “rich doctors,” and I will not argue that some specialties have a greater profit margin than others, but as the granddaughter and daughter of physicians, dentists, and midwives and as a practice manager for physicians now, neither my relatives nor my current employers have a spare 20 percent profit margin. Practices will close, thousands will lose their jobs, and seeking health care will become a nightmare. Your only source will be the emergency room. “Cadillac” plans won't matter, the doctor's office will be closed so your coverage will be irrelevant.
And the audacity, in the light of all this, is that Blue Cross is announcing they will have to raise premiums by 15 percent. That must be new math, they say they have too many sick people in their insured pool. That is
because they priced the healthy people out of the pool; healthy people decided to go uninsured and take their chances (or they lost their jobs and insurance and have no choice but to go bare). So Blue Cross doesn’t
have more sick people, just a greater percentage of the pool that they themselves streamlined.
Ask a primary care physician what he or she makes. Ask a pediatrician how much she or he gets paid for that 30 minute office visit; out of which they pay for nurses, in house labs, malpractice and staffers. Be warned folks, doomsday is here and it is not just about seeking health care. So many people are about to lose their jobs because of the domino effect of the SGR cuts that the economy is going to be sitting in the ER right next to you.