A shocking 23 percent reduction to Medicare payments to doctors is scheduled to go into effect on the first of December, unless Congress intervenes. Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar reports in the Associated Press:
“The cuts have nothing to do with President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. They’re the consequence of a 1990s budget-balancing law whose requirements Congress has routinely postponed. But these cuts don’t go away; they come back for a bigger bite.
“Doctors have muddled through with temporary reprieves for years. This time, medical groups estimate that as many as two-thirds of doctors would stop taking new Medicare patients, throwing the health program for 46 million older and disabled people into turmoil just when the first baby boomers will become eligible.
“The AMA and Obama would settle for adding the cost to the deficit. Most Republicans and many consevative Democrats want it paid for.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is working overtime to try to prevent the cuts. In a speech to the American Association of Medical Colleges, she told doctors:
“…[We] know that health care providers also face significant barriers as you strive to deliver the best care possible. And we’re committed to working with you to reduce them. That starts with preventing the 23% cut in Medicare payments to doctors that’s scheduled to take effect at the end of the month. These drastic cuts could force doctors out of the Medicare program and jeopardize the care of our seniors.That’s why we’re urging Congress to act…”