HealthLeaders Media PhysicianLeaders - July 17, 2008 | Leaving Medicare is Easier Said than Done View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free
Leaving Medicare is
Easier Said than Done

Elyas Bakhtiari, Managing Editor

Before Congress voted to override President Bush's veto of HR 6331 this week, there were a lot of public warnings and discussions about physicians dropping Medicare. Every journalist, lobbyist, and legislator seemed to have a touching anecdote or a troubling statistic handy to illustrate the impact of a 10.6% reduction in Medicare payments. Now that the cut is off the table for the time being, that possibility doesn't go away for many doctors, even though the public attention will. [Read More]
  July 17, 2008

 
Editor's Picks
Doctors-insurers confrontation heats up
This Dallas Morning News article about escalating confrontations between physicians and insurers leads with the obvious: Money. But the problem wouldn't go away with higher reimbursement rates. Doctors just want to practice medicine, and instead they're forced to spend time resubmitting denied claims or waiting for preapproval from a reviewer with no medical background. It's the bureaucracy and lack of autonomy that doctors find frustrating, and until that is addressed these confrontations will continue. [Read More]
E-visits lose their shine
Richard Friedman, MD, writes in the New York Times about his initial high hopes when he began giving patients his e-mail address, and the inevitable problems that followed. Perhaps he just wasn't in the right specialty—he's a psychiatrist, so patients e-mailed him about everything from suicidal thoughts to dating problems. But primary care physician Ben Brewer, MD, had the opposite problem. After investing $1,800 a year for a new Web site that allows e-consults, he has found that patients aren't interested in paying $30 for an online visit. He is taking it down at the end of the month. [Read More]
Specialists' compensation barely keeps up with inflation
Compensation for specialists increased only 3.16% last year, or just 0.31% when adjusted for inflation, according to the latest MGMA compensation survey. It's better than last year's paltry 1.78% increase (not adjusted for inflation), but that's a pretty low bar. Primary care fared a little better with a 6.30% jump. The single specialty with the biggest increase was noninvasive cardiology, which climbed 11.72%. The biggest loser? Hematology/oncology with a whopping 16.83% drop in compensation. [Read More]
Nontraditional medical students
Sandeep Jauhar, MD, PhD, has an interesting article in The New England Journal of Medicine about nontraditional medical students who enter medicine at a later age and without the traditional pre-med background. One example he gives is a 29-year-old former actor who is now a psychiatry resident. It's not uncommon for medical schools to accept middle-aged students, as well. Nontraditional students are becoming so common that they are no longer really nontraditional—50% of medical students at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine come from non-science backgrounds, for example. [Read More]
Dead docs still getting Medicare payments
Maybe if Medicare limited its payments to doctors who are actually living, it wouldn't have to worry so much about cutting reimbursements every year. A Senate investigation found that Medicare paid $92.8 million worth of claims submitted under the names of roughly 17,000 dead doctors between 2000 and 2007. Criminals submitted about a half-million claims successfully. [Read More]
 
Business Rx
Develop a marketing budget:
The marketing budget is an expression of the manner in which the marketing program seeks to achieve its annual goals. It supports the group's ability to deliver needed clinical services to its patients. The budget must be adequately sized and appropriately spent to enable the group to rise above competitors who may offer similar services. [Read More]
 
Physician News
P4P didn't deliver better care, study shows
Boston Globe - July 17, 2008
Massachusetts panel rejects ban on drug firm gifts
Boston Globe - July 16, 2008
Bill would toughen California regulators' hand with insurers over doctors' pay
Los Angeles Times - July 15, 2008
BlueCross of Tennessee doctors get more time to review profiles
The Tennessean - July 16, 2008
Doctor-clinic ties in St. Louis area questioned
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - July 17, 2008
Audioconferences/Webcasts
August 6: OR Overhaul: 5 Surgical Site Improvements Every Leader Should Make Today
On Demand: Service Line Strategies Workshop 2008: Neurosciences
On Demand: Physician Alignment Strategies: Choose the Right On-call Compensation Model for Your Hospital
On Demand: Marketing your physician practice: A guide to growth
From HealthLeaders Magazine
The Hospital
of the Future

HealthLeaders July 2008
Sure, your organization offers sophisticated, compassionate care. But the patients of tomorrow will want much more than that. Here’s how some hospitals are creating facilities for a new vision of healthcare. [Read More]
 
PhysicianLeaders Forum

Are Doctor's Underpaid? Contributor Phillip Miller, vice president of communications with Merritt, Hawkins & Associates, examines recent physician compensation trends and considers the potential consequences of not paying doctors what they're worth. [Read More]
 
Audio Feature

Cutting It Close: William F. Jessee, MD, FACMPE, president and CEO of the Medical Group Management Association, talks about fixing the Medicare reimbursement system.. [Listen Now]
 
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Resources From HealthLeaders Media

Read about the latest business strategies to help you grow beyond traditional practice models in Physician Entrepreneurs: Going Retail.
Start marketing your practice or refine your existing marketing program with Physician Entrepreneurs: Marketing Toolkit, a new HealthLeaders Media book that combines expert tips with marketing samples, tools, forms, and checklists that will help grow your practice.
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