Even the Chronicle is printing our letters now!
From KWTPS Member, Tony:
The Houston Chronicle editorial board has allowed some excellent “letters to the editor” through the past few days. Below is one is from Dr. William H. Fleming, president of the Texas Medical Association concerning the impact of Medicare’s recent cut to physicians payments by more 21% as of March 1, 2010. Those of us already on Medicare know that Medicare rates were already a problem for many doctors and health care providers.
We should not be surprised when more “private sector” doctors opt out of the Medicare medical network and for supplemental insurance policy rates to increase to cover the gap because of this announced cut in payments.
But what about the Democrats’ Health care bill? What impact on doctors will it have should it become law? According to an article on cnsnews.com this morning, at least 1/3 of doctors will opt out of Medicare should the current Health care bill become law. The article can be reached at the link: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/62812
Somewhere in the “bowels” of the now 3000 page long “bill” is plans to cut $500 BILLION Medicare expenditures over the projected time frame (10 years?). This is one of the “ploys” to keep the new entitlement program from adding to the deficit. Since “government” has never gone after the massive fraud in Medicare, we should not expect it to now. Thus, the “cut” in Medicare expenditures will be in the form of reduced payments for services provided and by reducing the type and quantity of services provided. Since millions of “baby boomers” are now being added to the roles, the cut will require decisions to be made regarding what services will be provided and who will get the care. As in the UK, only “Government” will be in a position to weigh costs versus benefits (to society?) and make those very hard decisions, not you nor your doctor. You recall candidate Obama’s comments about his grandmother being given pain pills rather than a hip replacement.
Regardless of what “we the people” say or do, this bill may well become law through “hook” or “crook”. Those in power believe “The end justifies the means”. Regardless, we must press on.
I believe our hope lies in the restoration of states rights, back to what our founding fathers planned. It appears that at least the “Red states” will take the Federal government’s over reaching up in courts. Lets pray they can keep health care “locked up” until 2012. We should also press our state governments to pass laws that make it illegal to force any citizen to buy health insurance and to start procedures to take from the Federal Government the state’s role to provide for the health and well being of its citizens. This includes health care, education, and concern for the state’s environment.
Again, our hope lies in our states. As crazy as it sounds, I believe we would be far better off if this massive out of control “Federal” Medicare program was split up into 50 pieces, debt and al and each state take over, lock, stock, and barrel all of it that concerns its own citizens. The Federal government, even if run by our choice of elected officials, cannot possibly “manage” all that it has taken over. Individual states could do a far better job and California would then have several good models to copy. Even with Bill White as Governor, I would much prefer Texas to be managing my Medicare than DC.
Letter from Houston Chronicle (Mar 14 2010)
From the CHRONICLE: Medicare hurting doctors
For an elderly patient, a doctor can mean everything: independence, hope and security. Medicare makes it possible. For a physician, treating our elderly patients is everything. We have cared for many of these patients for years. We know their children and their grandchildren — these patients are family. The last thing we want to do is tell our elderly patients that we can no longer see them.
However, some physicians may have no choice but to leave the Medicare program. On March 1, Medicare cut physicians’ payments more than 21 percent. This cut has been in the works for the past 10 years, but each year Congress has put a temporary Band-Aid on the festering problem. However, Band-Aids haven’t fixed the problem, which is the faulty funding formula that Medicare uses to calculate physicians’ Medicare payments. Texas physicians have pleaded with Congress to fix Medicare for the past decade. It is the insurance Medicare patients depend on for health care. It is what our country has promised them. All of us have paid into the Medicare system. And we all deserve for Congress to come up with a permanent solution to protect the program for generations to come.
However, the program is doomed to fail until Congress fixes the faulty payment formula used to pay physicians. And here’s where the problem resides: Federal law requires that Medicare payments to physicians be modified annually using a formula known as the sustainable growth rate, or SGR. Flaws in that formula have mandated physician fee cuts almost every year for the past decade. Only short-term congressional fixes have stopped the cuts. Without a permanent solution, the cuts grow deeper each year. In the next few years, physicians could see a cut as deep as 40 percent. Right now in Texas, more than 2.5 million senior citizens and people with disabilities, and 850,000 military family members, depend on Medicare for health care.
If Congress does not reverse the cut, these patients will have Medicare coverage but may not have a physician of their choice to care for them. In a recent survey, 43 percent of Texas physicians currently treating Medicare patients said the cuts would force them out of Medicare altogether. If President Obama and Congress truly want to fix our country’s health care system, they must start with Medicare. Failure to address Medicare only demonstrates their lack of commitment to fix what’s wrong with our health care system.
William H. Fleming III. M.D., president, Texas Medical Association