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As a family doctor serving our community for the past 13 years, I want people to be aware that doctors who see MediCare and TriCare patients (the disabled, the elderly and the military and their families) face a 30 percent reduction in payment for their care to be phased in on Dec. 1 this year and Jan. 1, 2011.
To be clear, this is not related to recent health care reform legislation but rather to a payment method that MediCare has been using for years now called the Sustainable Growth Rate. This is supposed to rein-in spending by MediCare (and TriCare, which is linked to it) by scaling payment to doctors based on local population and cost of running a business. This has typically been deferred at the last minute by Congress in order to avoid cuts to doctors and their patients.
Unfortunately, the currently convened “lame duck” session must act now to defer these cuts and hopefully to devise a better system of payment. If they do not, every doctor who sees disabled, older or military patients faces a loss of 30 percent in professional services given to these patients.
Speaking for myself, I do not plan to stop seeing patients with these insurances because I feel it is a duty and responsibility of doctors to see these patients who have given so much to our community. However, such large reductions in payment would certainly affect how many patients with these insurances I could see and would certainly have a stifling effect on the ability of elderly and military patients to find medical care.
If this concerns you, please urgently contact Senators Boxer and Feinstein to urge them to act now.
Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
501 I Street, Suite 7-600
Sacramento, CA 95814
(202) 228-3865 fax
Office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: (415) 393-0707
Fax: (415) 393-0710