One in 10 practicing physicians said they would retire if Medicare payments fall 5% next year, according to an e-mail survey of 5,486 doctors conducted in February and March by the American Medical Association. Just over 60% of the physicians said they would put off purchasing new equipment, and 38% would accept fewer Medicare patients.
At a news conference to announce survey results, AMA President-elect J. Edward Hill, M.D., said Medicare payments to physicians already seriously lag behind the increasing cost of providing medical care. If Congress and the Bush administration don't act soon, Medicare reimbursement cuts of 26% over the next six years will drive many physicians out of business, Hill said.
He said the issue was not physicians' take-home pay but the impact on physician practices as businesses. Staffing levels, staff pay and office hours would be hardest hit by the reimbursement cuts, Hill said. AMA members may view the survey.