Possible Increase in Medicare Reimbursements Could Affect Doctors in Sonoma, Santa Cruz Counties
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat on Friday examined federal officials' consideration of a proposal to increase Medicare payments to doctors in some counties, including Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties, by about 8% to offset "significant disparities" between Medicare reimbursements and the cost of treating Medicare beneficiaries.
According to the Press Democrat, Medicare reimbursements in the state are based on historic cost differences among nine geographical areas. Urban areas such as Los Angeles, Santa Clara and San Francisco are considered individually under the formula while more rural areas are grouped into larger categories.
In Sonoma County, Medicare pays doctors about 10% less for some medical services than it does doctors in Marin, Napa and Solano counties, among others. Local physicians say the discrepancy has led some doctors to move out of the area or stop treating Medicare beneficiaries.
According to the Press Democrat, whether the proposed change will be approved "remains uncertain" (Callahan, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 8/5).