Physicians Considering Options Ahead of Cuts to Medicare Payments
Almost 50% of medical practices say they will cease accepting new Medicare patients if scheduled reimbursement cuts totaling more than 30% take effect, according to a new report released by Medical Group Management Association, Modern Physician reports.
The survey was based on responses from more than 2,800 medical groups representing approximately 63,000 physicians.
The results showed that if reimbursement cuts are implemented, more than 62% of medical practices likely will limit the number of new Medicare patients they see.
The survey also found that:
- More than 75% of respondents said they would postpone purchasing new equipment or facilities;
- About 50% said they intended to downsize staff; and
- 45% said they likely would delay buying electronic health record systems.
According to William Jessee, MGMA's president and CEO, the survey results align with decisions undertaken by physician practices after Congress postponed action on reimbursement cuts in June. For example, 37% of practices put off purchasing EHRs and 29% limited new Medicare patients (McKinney, Modern Physician, 10/25).
Physicians Disagree on Reimbursement System Reform
Although 78.4% of U.S. physicians are dissatisfied with Medicare reimbursements, there is little consensus on how to reform the system, according to a study published on Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, MedPage Today reports.
For the study, researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and colleagues surveyed by mail 6,000 physicians randomly selected from the American Medical Association Masterfile between June 25 and Oct. 31, 2009.
After receiving responses from 1,222 physicians -- most said they accepted Medicare -- the researchers found that 78% of participants thought some procedures were either too highly compensated or not compensated enough (Walker, MedPage Today, 10/25).
Nearly half of respondents favored offering incentives -- such as bonuses for achieving certain quality standards and preventing re-hospitalization -- as a means to payment reform. However, 46% of physicians did not support shifting payments away from procedures and toward management and counseling services, and 69% of respondents said they opposed bundling payments.
According to the findings, surgeons were less likely than generalists to support shifting payments from procedures to management and counseling services -- only 16.6% of surgeons supported the proposal compared with 66.5% of generalists (Page, Becker's Hospital Review, 10/25).
The study authors concluded that successful implementation of payment reforms may hinge on understanding physician concerns with proposals and their "willingness to make tradeoffs" (MedPage Today, 10/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.