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'Doc Fix' is Unfixable

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, December 8, 2011

"The number of older Americans whose access to care is threatened by these cuts continues to rapidly multiply as 79 million baby boomers have begun joining the ranks of Medicare patients. The cost to repeal the SGR has risen from $48 billion in 2005 to $300 billion today. And that figure keeps growing," Carmel writes.

While the physician organizations have been beating the drum for political action, Lucien W. Roberts III, MHA, FAMPE, a former medical practice administrator and vice president of a firm that consults with physicians, detects a deafening silence among rank-and-file physicians over the doc fix. Physicians "are distracted" by so many other complicated and pressing issues, such as ICD-10, he tells HealthLeaders Media.

Roberts counsels physicians to get politically active. Fiscal problems for docs are only going to get worse until the SGR is repealed, he says.

For many Americans struggling in a down economy, it's tough to sympathize with physicians simply because of their earning power. The median annual salaries for physicians range from $174,000 for family practitioners to $225,000 for surgeons, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For many physicians, however, the continual hassle over the doc fix is wearying.

A baby-boomer physician, who holds a medical directorship at a healthcare facility, told me of his disgust with the health system, what he sees as misleading cuts, and the floundering of the American Medical Association in lobbying. He didn't want to be identified so he could speak freely.

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