California Doctors Say Medicare Payments Are Inadequate
Members of the California congressional delegation at a House committee hearing on Tuesday criticized Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors in 10 counties, saying that the rates are so low that some physicians have stopped accepting new Medicare beneficiaries, the Sacramento Bee reports.
According to Elizabeth McNeil, director of federal affairs for the California Medical Association, underpayment rates in the 10 counties range from 1.2% in San Luis Obispo County to 10% in Santa Cruz County.
McNeil said CMA is not opposed to lower reimbursements in rural areas where the costs are lower. However, in California, 47 counties are designated as a single rural area although some doctors work in high-cost urban areas. In addition, McNeil said payments for the combined locality have not been reanalyzed since 1996, when data from 1966 was used.
Unless action is taken to address the payment rates as well as scheduled 4.6% cut for physician payments nationwide, more doctors likely will stop accepting new Medicare beneficiaries, McNeil said.
According to members at the hearing, a temporary fix for both problems is likely, leaving the issue for lawmakers to deal with next year (Whitney, Sacramento Bee, 7/26).