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Medicare Payment Delays Push California Physicians To Stop Accepting New Patients

In a California Healthline Special Report by Deirdre Kennedy, physicians, a policy expert and a representative from the company newly hired to handle California’s Medicare payments discussed problems that have caused thousands of Medicare payments to be delayed for several months.

The Special Report includes comments from:

  • Mike Barlow, vice president of Palmetto, California’s new Medicare billing contractor;
  • Julian Delgado, a board member of the California Academy of Family Physicians;
  • Dev GnanaDev, president of the California Medical Association; and
  • Sandra Newman, director of health policy for California Academy of Family Physicians.

CMS made two significant changes in Medicare billing procedures this year: the switch to a national provider identifier — a new system for keeping track of where Medicare’s payments go — and hiring a new company to handle the system. The combination of those two changes has created several problems that have resulted in thousands of doctors receiving late payments.

“You know, we have to pay our bills,” said Delgado, a family practice physician in Northern California. “We have to pay our staff, we have to pay our overhead, our rent, our electricity.  It got to the point where my partner went two months without any take home pay.  Before that, we were robbing Peter to pay Paul, just to make our ends meet.” 

“We’re not taking any new Medicare patients because we can’t afford to be at risk like this,” Delgado said (Kennedy, California Healthline, 11/24).

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