Why Are Doctors Working Fewer Hours?
Which brings me back to the looming Medicare payment cut. Congress has until next Monday to permanently fix the SGR formula or delay the scheduled 21% cut.
The American Medical Association and other physician groups obviously want the former, and they have boldly campaigned against short-term fixes in favor of real solutions. But that is risky considering a bill that would have fixed the SGR-driven problems failed to pass in the Senate last fall.
Congress has become dysfunctional, and government spending has become such a hot-button political issue that it is difficult to muster support for things worthy of our dollars. As of this writing, it looks like the best Washington can offer for now is delaying the cut until March 28.
But if policy makers don't get their act together and the cut goes into effect, or if they only put another Band-Aid on this growing gash in the healthcare system, the research about physician work hours may be telling of what's to come.
Theoretically, if reimbursement fell by 21%, a lot of physicians would work 21% longer in order to maintain current incomes. But that's not going to happen. It just isn't worth the extra stress, effort, and resources for a lot of doctors.
Instead, they're just going to work less, and patient access will ultimately suffer.
Note: You can sign up to receive HealthLeaders Media PhysicianLeaders, a free weekly e-newsletter that features the top physician business headlines of the week from leading news sources.
Elyas Bakhtiari is a freelance editor for HealthLeaders Media.
- CMS Sets 2014 Pay Rates for Hospital Outpatient and Physician Services
- FDA hopes hospitals will switch to newly regulated pharmacies
- Not-for-Profit Hospitals Find Opportunity Amid Uncertainty
- The 5 Biggest Healthcare Finance Trouble Spots
- The Most Polarizing Topics in Healthcare IT
- New G-Code to Pay Doctors for Broad Array of Non-Face-to-Face Care
- Why You Should Involve Patients in Nursing Handoffs
- How CPOE Will Make Healthcare Smarter
- States Rejecting Medicaid Expansion Forgo Billions in Federal Funds
- Safety Net Executives Renew Call to Preserve DSH Payments