Most practicing doctors didn't believe that the looming 21 percent across the board Medicare cuts would stick, and we have already been given a one month reprieve. The cuts are tied to the Jobs bill, which has now been passed temporarily.
But the mere possibility of these Medicare cuts reminded doctors across the country of a larger reality. That for many years now Medicare has been chipped away at, even as our office expenses have risen and our elderly patients are living longer and coming in with longer lists of medications and potential procedures, thanks to modern technology. I am paid the same $50 that I received ten years ago for treating my 88-year-old patient Herb, though his treatments are more complex and it takes longer for him to understand them. Many of the specialists who I would refer Herb to no longer accept his Medicare. Their reimbursements have been cut to an unworkably low amount.
Medicaid is even worse, and only 50 percent of doctors in the U.S. now accept it.
Both programs are full of inefficiencies and fraud, but it is doubtful if the same federal government that administers them now, can suddenly learn the skills to better police these programs going forward.
I wrote about some of the difficulties that doctors' have in working with Medicare in my oped in Wednesday's NY Post. Click here to read it.
Dr. Marc Siegel is an internist and associate professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. He is a FOX News medical contributor and writes a health column for the LA Times, where he examines TV and movies for medical accuracy. Dr. Siegel is the author of a new ebook: Swine Flu; the New Pandemic. Dr. Siegel is also the author of "False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear"and "Bird Flu: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemic."Read more at www.doctorsiegel.com