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Doctors Treating Medicare Patients to See Pay Cuts

Payments to physicians in the Medicare program are set to be cut 26 percent over the next six years. That has medical associations in Texas asking the congressional delegation to change the formula that reimburses physicians. Currently the formula that is used to determine physician payments is tied to the gross domestic product and the […]

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Payments to physicians in the Medicare program are set to be cut 26 percent over the next six years. That has medical associations in Texas asking the congressional delegation to change the formula that reimburses physicians.

Currently the formula that is used to determine physician payments is tied to the gross domestic product and the volume of services that patients receive. The result is a plan to cut the payments to physicians beginning at the first of the year. American Medical Association Board of Trustees Chairman Doctor James Rohack says the formula is flawed.

Texas Medical Association Immediate Past-President Doctor Bohn Allen says the formula was passed in 1999 and implemented in 2001.

Medical associations applied pressure on Congress two years ago and were successful in delaying the cuts to physician pay and actually got a slight increase. This time around, Allen says they are hoping for a more permanent fix. Allen points out that Texas has the fourth highest number of medicare beneficiares.

Harris County Medical Society President Doctor Robert Vanzant is a family physician. Vanzant says he loses money caring for patients on medicare.

Vanzant says cuts could result in doctors not accepting any new medicare patients. The medical groups would like to see the reimbursement formula changed to reflect the economics associated with patient care. The cuts would only impact Part B of Medicare which is a pay as you go system, and does not affect hospitals. The doctors add that the formula for paying physicians is a small part of the over-all budget problems that the Medicare system is facing.

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