Citing SGR Cuts, Physicians Mull Dropping Medicare Patients

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , October 26, 2010

Two of three medical practices surveyed—67% of respondents—say they will either limit the number of new Medicare patients they accept or stop seeing Medicare patients altogether if Congress does not halt reimbursement cuts of about 30% that take effect by the end of the year, a survey by the Medical Group Management Association shows. 

A reimbursement cut of 23.6% is slated to take effect Dec. 1, followed by an additional 6.5% cut on Jan. 1, as part of the Medicare's controversial sustainable growth rate formula.

The SGR formula has called for an across-the-board reduction in physician payment rates every year since 2002, and since 2003, through May 31, 2010, the cuts have been averted by legislative action.

"This is a situation that must be dealt with immediately when Congress returns after the elections," said MGMA President/CEO William F. Jessee, MD in a statement. "Further congressional delays jeopardize patients and the medical practices that serve them."

If no action is taken to stop the reductions, 49.5% of medical groups said that they will stop seeing new Medicare patients, and 27.5% of respondents said they would cease treating Medicare patients. 
In addition, physician practices are considering other steps to address reimbursement cuts:

  • 76% will likely delay the purchase of new clinical equipment and/or facilities;
  • 60% will likely reduce the number of administrative support staff;

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