Many of you have heard by now that Congress has proposed cutting Medicare payments to physicians this year by 21.3 percent. As you can imagine, for medical practices already strained by the recession, the rising cost of medical supplies and increasing costs of benefits for their own healthcare employees, this huge one year decrease in payments to doctors may just be the tipping point for them to go out of business. Or it may cause them to rethink their participation with Medicare. At a time when we need more and better physicians with increasing attention to Baby Boomers now beginning to reach Medicare age, it is important for public policy to support medical professionals, not drive them out of business.
Yes, there is temporary legislation that would avoid the drastic reduction in physician reimbursements, extending 2009 rates through the end of May, as well as address other expiring programs such as extended COBRA benefits for individuals who have lost their jobs. Certainly letters to your Congressman and Senator voicing your opinion and opposing such a large reduction in reimbursement are a way you can help. But you should know that discussions among doctors is pessimistic about the outlook and that many physicians are likely to reconsider their Medicare participation.
Regardless of the outcome of the legislative debate, we at Deuk Spine Institute will continue to support our many Medicare patients. Our involvement in the Medicare program will continue for existing and new patients. You have my personal commitment.
Ara J. Deukmedjian, MD
Board Certified Neurosurgeon
CEO, Deuk Spine Institute