Doc Fix Redux
The recurring nightmare that is the now $300 billion budget deficit problem related to Medicare physician reimbursement was papered over once again, but this time only for two months. This is one example of many smoke and mirrors budget reckonings that make up the so-called 'affordable' care act passed by Congress in 2010. Find the story in the Washington Post here. Excerpts:
It’s become an unpleasant ritual for doctors who see patients with Medicare.
Every so often, they are threatened with a devastating cut to their Medicare reimbursements mandated by a rate-setting formula that leaders of both parties agree is flawed but would cost nearly $300 billion to permanently repeal.
Congress passed the latest “doc fix,” delaying a looming 27.4 percent cut for two months as part of a larger deal to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. But doctors, lobbyists and Medicare officials alike said this go-around seemed noticeably less predictable.
The heightened uncertainty surrounding this year’s negotiations eroded doctors’ long-term confidence in Congress, said Alan Wasserman, president of George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates, one of the largest practices in Washington.
“Physicians still think that the people in Congress are too intelligent to let [the pay cut] happen,” he said. “But we are concerned that as the rhetoric keeps getting turned up, and more and more, areas of compromise just aren’t there any more. Sooner or later, there is going to be an impasse.”
With this latest fix expiring on Feb. 29, doctors worry that moment could be around the corner.
Obama-care is pretend health system reform with pretend budgeting. Sooner or later health care costs will kill the federal budget if we do not change the way we do health care business. And killing government payments for health care will kill the health care system, because, like it or not, we have a publicly financed health care system in the US, where taxpayers pay more per capita for health care than do the taxpayers of any other country.
We can not keep pretending about this indefinitely. Join us and help make substantive health system reform happen.
Dr. Joe Jarvis