The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC or MPAC) newly beefed-up by Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), has voted to endorse a plan that will drastically cut the pay of the few physicians who still agree to treat Medicare patients.
Congress must approve the recommendation, but Dick Morris says MPAC decisions “have the force of law.” If Congress does not approve the cuts, “a 30% across-the-board cut in Medicare payments mandated” by the existing formula used to set payments, will go into affect on January 1, 2012.
Scrap the SGR formula
Freeze the pay of primary care physicians for a decade while reducing pay for specialists by 5.9% for three years, the freezing it for another 7 years
Come up with a replacement formula for SGR and ways to pay for it
Accelerate delivery system reform, including encouraging doctors to form accountable care organizations (ACOs)
A urologist serving on the MedPAC panel says in January 2012, the nurse practioner who works in his office will make more than he [the urologist] will, “seeing the same patient, with the same code, and the same risk.”
* Many physicians, and many more specialists, will refuse to treat Medicare patients. It will become very, very difficult to see a cardiologist or an oncologist or a gastroenterologist or OB-GYN specialist if you are on Medicare unless you are willing to pay out of pocket or have the kind of health insurance coverage from a private source that would reimburse for their care.
* More and more medical care will be turned over to nurses or physician assistants, and fewer people will ever get to see a doctor on Medicare.
* Private health insurers will follow in the footsteps of the Medicare program and likely slash their fees as well.
* Fewer students will enter medicine, and a major shortage of doctors will reduce the quality of medical care in America drastically.
The cuts will effectively reduce the real pay for specialists by 50% over the next ten years — including a 25% reduction over the next three years — and cut general practitioners’ pay by one-third over ten years (and that assumes that inflation stays down at 3% a year).MPAC has ruled that specialists must accept a 6% cut in their fees per year, for each of the next three years, followed by a seven year freeze in their fees without any adjustment for inflation.
If inflation stays very low — at 3% per year — this cut amounts to an 18% cut in nominal pay and a 50% cut in real pay for specialists. General practitioners will face a ten year freeze on their pay, reducing their real compensation by one-third assuming ongoing low inflation.
Higher inflation, of course, would make the cuts in real pay even more drastic.
PAUL KRUGMAN Nov. 2010: ”Some years down the pike, we’re going to get the real solution, which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes. It’s going to be that we’re actually going to take Medicare under control, and we’re going to have to get some additional revenue, probably from a VAT. But it’s not going to happen now.”
The Obama healthcare plan passed by Congress in 2010 includes government-run healthcare committees with sweeping powers, including the power to engage in competitive pricing and cost analysis, a system Britain uses that has led to rationing of medical care for the elderly.
Critics of the Obama plan, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, quickly dubbed the committees “death panels,” saying government agencies would decide who would live and who would die. Supporters of the Obama health plan dismissed such suggestions as nonsense.
Krugman apparently thinks otherwise, and suggests that such death panels could be one way the federal government will be able to keep soaring medical costs under control as baby boomers enter retirement.
Think of the Billions of dollars we have paid elected and unelected bureaucrats to bring us to this terrible place today. Go to DickMorris.com to sign a letter to be emailed from the website, or hand-delivered by you, to your Congressmen and Senators.