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Debate Over Whether Medicare Pay Cuts Will Hurt Doctors’ Practices, Patients

An article in the Washington Post discusses a rising debate over whether or not reimbursement cuts in Medicare will have a drastic effect on physicians or their patients as many medical advocacy groups are warning.

Some prominent healthcare analysts – including some from an independent agency advising Congress – say that the

…the problem is not that doctors will be short-changed, but that most will continue to be paid too much. And when it comes to hospitals, other experts contend the impending cuts are marginal enough to be easily absorbed and could even encourage more efficient care.

Much of this discussion centers on specialists, whom the experts quoted say always seem to make up for Medicare cuts by increasing revenue by other means. But “the picture is less rosy for primary care doctors, who have fewer opportunities to make up for stagnant fees by increasing their patient load or offering more costly treatments.”

Hospitals, on the other hand, were willing to go along with some of these cuts in return for supporting healthcare reform, since that would result in the addition to millions of newly insured patients. However, with many politicians vowing to repeal the legislation, and the Supreme Court about to review its constitutionality, hospitals could end up getting a double-whammy.

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