The number of physicians participating in Medicare programs is rising in Ohio, West Virginia and South Carolina, according to the company that administers Part B Medicare payments in those states.
In Ohio, 32,209 physicians, or 96% of the doctors in the state, participate in Medicare, up from 27,758 physicians participating last year, according to Palmetto GBA, based in Columbia, S.C.
In West Virginia, 5,537 physicians, or 95% of doctors in the state, accept Part B, up from 4,514 participants last year.
In South Carolina, 7,654 physicians, also 95% of all physicians in the state, accept Part B, up from 7,291 participants last year.
The relatively high rate of physician participation in the Medicare program in all three states is an indicator that beneficiaries there have good access to medical care, according to Bruce Hughes, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Palmetto, a subsidiary of Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina.
The returns from the Medicare administrator hint that a physicians' movement to drop Medicare has fizzled in those three states. However, Hughes said not all physicians in each of the three states are accepting new Medicare patients.
Physicians nationwide threatened dire consequences for the Medicare program after a 5.4% cut in payments in 2002 was followed by a threatened 4.4% cut for 2003. That proposed cut was rolled back by protests that yielded a modest 1.6% increase that year and a 1.5% boost in 2004.
Many physician leaders still say the reimbursement mechanism is irreparably broken and are calling for a complete rebuild.