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Happy Birthday, Baby Boomers: One More Eligible For Medicare Every 8 Seconds

Today begins a lame duck session of Congress before it breaks for Thanksgiving. It’s the final chance to work out a temporary patch to Medicare reimbursement before a 23 percent cut takes effect Dec. 1. Doctors are going to stop taking new Medicare patients if the cuts happen. And, as one breast cancer surgeon explains, if Medicare stops paying, so to private insurers and even military health programs. Congress will meet in December, but the damage will be done.

This all is happening two weeks before the baby boomers become eligible for Medicare. That populous generation starts to turn 65 beginning on Jan. 1, which means they become eligible for Medicare on Dec. 1, which, as we mentioned, is the day the 23 percent Medicare pay cut kicks in. Boomers will continue to become eligible for Medicare, one person every eight seconds, until December 2029. (CNN, The Washington Post, USA Today)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

“Whoop-De-Do!” To The Medicare Physician Pay Cut Problem

After months of dithering, delaying, denying, and defaulting on a decision, Congress ended up…doing as little as possible to address the Medicare physician pay cut problem.

Thursday night the House of Representatives acceded to the Senate’s bill to provide physicians with a 2.2 percent update retroactive to June 1. This respite, though, lasts only through the end of November, when physicians and patients will again face another double-digit cut. And if the past is prologue, a lame-duck Congress then will wait until the very last minute to enact another short-term patch, or worse yet, allow the cut to go into effect on December 1 and then pass some kind of retroactive adjustment.

You know that the situation has gotten ridiculously bad when the President says this about the bill he just signed into law:

“Kicking these cuts down the road just isn’t an adequate solution.”

And when Speaker Pelosi (D-CA) calls it “inadequate” and a “great disappointment” and the best that any had to say about it was this from SFC ranking member Charles Grassley (R-IA):

“This action was critically needed so there’s no disruption in services for anyone.”

But it’s too late. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

SGR: Tired Of Congress Hitting The 6-Month “Snooze” Button

I have not a single thing I want to write about today. I am weary of the obvious topic: the “passage” of the 6-month extension on the SGR, but do feel I need to comment.

I am tired of this. I am tired of being jerked around by congress. I am tired of congress hitting the 6-month snooze button and somehow feeling that they are doing something good. This is procrastination, not a solution. Reassurances that something will be done are starting to be irrelevant. The problem is becoming the frustration, anger, and exhaustion that congress is thrusting upon doctors and patients, not the pay cut itself. The idea of no longer having to deal with the passive-aggressive tactics of congress is becoming increasingly appealing –- and if it’s this way for me, I’m sure it’s the same for PCPs across the country. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

Congress Acts On Doc Fix: Music To Doctors’ Ears

Leading members of the Senate Finance Committee came to an agreement Thursday night on a six-month “doc fix,” paving the way for physicians to be reimbursed a little more for seeing Medicare patients instead of a lot less. (This is now separate from the rest of the legislative package it had been part of, which is still under debate.)

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid warned that without passage, there’d be “havoc in America.” But the American Medical Association (AMA) continued its attack on anything less than a permanent solution. The AMA compared it to fiddling while Rome burns. What tune are members of Congress playing?

A) Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees
B) Doctor, Doctor! by the Thompson Twins
C) Time to Get Ill by the Beastie Boys

(The Hill, Politico, American Medical Association)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

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Latest Book Reviews

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