Saturday, July 18, 2009

Stupid Government Tricks - Medicare Edition

In an effort to seize more power, Mr. Fixit has asked Congress to relinquish control of price setting for Medicare reimbursement to the White House. According to Breitbart,
The proposal would allow an independent advisory board to recommend changes in Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors, hospitals and other providers. If the president approved the recommendations, Congress could still vote to reject them altogether. But Congress could not approve some recommendations and reject others.

Currently, Medicare reimbursement rates vary from region to region. Key lawmakers often get involved in setting local rates, a practice the Obama administration plan would end.

The current Medicare reimbursement rate is the least of any "insured" plan other than Medicaid. Many doctors limit the number of Medicare patients they will treat or refuse to accept any Medicare patients at all.

In most areas, about half of all doctors do not accept Medicare assignment.

Currently, Medicare reimbursements are scheduled to be reduced by 21% in January, 2010. This means doc's who currently accept Medicare assignment would receive a 21% pay cut starting in January of next year if the scheduled cuts are put in place. The most likely result would be even fewer doctor's willing to treat Medicare patients.

If the White House is given supreme power over Medicare reimbursement one has to wonder how deep the cuts will be and how few doctor's and hospitals would be willing to accept Medicare patients.

Almost one out of three American's is covered by Medicare or Medicaid. (If Medicare reimbursement is cut so would Medicaid. Reimbursement rates for Medicaid is 10 - 14% less than Medicare levels).

The good news is, any reduction in reimbursement for M/M reduces the tax bill for those who pay Medicare taxes.

The bad news is, reductions in M/M reimbursement means fewer medical providers willing to treat those patients and more out of pocket for people on M/M.
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