More Doctors Are Refusing Medicare Patients Because of Low Government Payments
The number of doctors refusing new Medicare patients because of low government payment rates is setting a new high, just six months before millions of Baby Boomers begin enrolling in the government health care program.
Recent surveys by national and state medical societies have found more doctors limiting Medicare patients, partly because Congress has failed to stop an automatic 21% cut in payments that doctors already regard as too low. The cut went into effect Friday, even as the Senate approved a six-month reprieve. The House has approved a different bill…
The federal health insurance program for seniors paid doctors on average 78% of what private insurers paid in 2008.
“Physicians are saying, ‘I can’t afford to keep losing money,’ ” says Lori Heim, president of the family doctors’ group.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says 97% of doctors accept Medicare. The agency doesn’t know how many have refused to take new Medicare patients, Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum says. “Medicare beneficiaries have good access to physician services. We do have concerns about access to primary care physicians.”
The AARP, the nation’s largest consumer group representing seniors, is taking notice. Some U.S. areas already face a shortage of primary care physicians. Policy director John Rother says the trend away from Medicare threatens to make it worse.
States are starting to see a flight from Medicare…