How do you feel about accepting Medicare?

February 26, 2010

Will you stop accepting Medicare because of the looming rate cut?

Will you stop accepting Medicare because of the looming rate cut?

Time is running out for Congress to step in and block a 21 percent Medicare reimbursement rate cut set for Monday. Some docs are saying they will stop taking Medicare patients, Kaiser Health News reports.

The AMA continues their intense lobbying effort to have Congress repeal the cuts and the faulty SGR payment formula on which the rates are based. But in the meantime, they are also providing information to their members, including how to remove themselves from the Medicare program and help their patients find other doctors, AMA according to CNN.

If you’re losing money every time you see a Medicare patient, why keep seeing them? Primary-care physician and blogger Kevin Pho (KevinMD) put it this way: Duty and conscience. He references fellow doc and blogger Dr. Robert Lambert’s post on the topic. Dr. Lamberts writes:

“So why in the world do I accept M/M still? Why would I continue to make my life so difficult? Two words: duty and calling. I view my seeing M/M patients as a social responsibility (especially Medicare). These people need to be seen and they deserve good care, and despite the hassle and drain on income they cause, I make a reasonable income. So far.”

Dr. Lamberts says his conscience and tolerance of pain keep him accepting Medicare, but that he is sympathetic to docs who drop insurance and Medicare. For some, the conscience isn’t enough to stay in business.

Congress has consistently stepped in in the past to stave off the payment cuts, most recently just a few months ago to extend the deadline to March 1. But what if they fail to act this time? What will you do? How do you feel about accepting Medicare patients?