Top 5 Physician Challenges in 2011

Joe Cantlupe, December 30, 2010

There are many things to look forward to in the New Year: possibly a fresh start for those physicians changing their day-to-day lives, maybe moving from a single practice to a group practice, or for baby boomers, a chance to finally curtail their hours as they promised themselves all those years ago.

But this column isn't about fresh starts, exactly.

This is about the carry-overs, issues that unfolded in 2010, and will continue to be especially important for physicians in 2011, whether physicians are changing their practices or cutting back on their hours. These are certainly hot-button  issues that we will be keeping an eye on in the coming year.

1.The 'Doc Fix'. Seriously, aren't we all sick of it? At the end of the year, Congress again dealt with the doc fix by putting it back another year, instead of only a few months. It seems the doc fix is the ultimate in procrastination and definitely a driver for much unpleasantness especially among physicians. President Obama, in signing a one-year delay in implementation of the Sustainable Growth Rate Formula, said, "It's time for a permanent solution that seniors and their doctors can depend on."

There is keen frustration among many that a permanent solution to the SGR formula for Medicare funding hasn't been found. The formula has called for cuts over the past decade, which include a 25% reduction in Medicare reimbursements that would have taken effect January 1, 2011. Congress delayed five times in dealing with the doc fix, as Elliot reported, and the longer it stalls,  the longer the toll on the federal budget and reimbursements. Look for more delays until Congress gets its act together.

Joe Cantlupe Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.Twitter
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