Houston Chronicle, March 7, 2011
Texas doctors fed up with Medicare's declining reimbursements dropped out of the government-funded program for the elderly in record numbers in 2010, according to new data. One hundred and seventy-two doctors formally ended involvement with Medicare last year, the most yet in a surge of "opt-outs" that has claimed more than 450 Texas doctors since 2008. Before 2007, the number averaged a handful a year. Since 2001, Medicare reimbursement has been cut about 20% in inflation-adjusted dollars. TMA officials contend those cuts are forcing doctors out of the system. The 172 opt-outs follow totals of 135 in 2009 and 151 in 2008, according to data compiled by the Houston Chronicle from the website of Trailblazer Health Enterprises, Texas' Medicare carrier. The trend started in 2007, when 70 doctors opted out.