Many physicians plan to limit new or existing Medicare patients and make other practice changes in wake of pending reimbursement cuts, the American Medical Association reported today.
The sustainable-growth-rate formula, which determines Medicare payments to physicians, ties annual expenditure targets to the economy and has called for negative payment updates over the past several years.
A survey of 8,955 AMA members found that 60% of physician respondents would limit the number of new Medicare patients, and 40% would limit existing patients if a 10% cut goes through in January 2008.
More than two-thirds of the respondents may defer investments in their practice, such as the purchase of new equipment and information technology if the cut goes through, and more than half may reduce their practice staff. Fourteen percent said theyd get out of patient care altogether.
If payment rates are cut by nearly 40% by 2015, 77% responded theyd limit new Medicare patients, and 68% said they would limit established patients. Most of the respondents thought overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans should be used to offset physician payment reductions or help low-income patients with out-of-pocket costs. Equalizing Medicare Advantage payments could cover the cost of fixing the formula, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates would cost $65 billion over five years, AMA Board Chairman Cecil Wilson said during a news conference on the survey results. -- by Jennifer Lubell