Doctors Reject Medicare as Millions of Baby Boomers Enter the System

Monday, June 21, 2010

In just six months, millions of baby boomers are expected to to enroll in Medicare at a time when the number of doctors refusing to take new Medicare patients is at an all-time high. In New York State alone, about 1,100 doctors have left the system. The American Medical Association blames low government payment rates for the sudden change. A 21 percent automatic cut in payments to doctors went into effect on Friday after Congress failed to pass a bill giving doctors a temporary reprieve.

With some areas of the United States already suffering from a deficit of primary care physicians, the AARP worries the trend away from Medicare will only make the problem worse. Some doctors, on the other hand, feel that the government has backed them into a corner. "Physicians are saying, 'I can't afford to keep losing money.'" says Lori Helm, president of the family doctors' group.

According to an AMA survey, 17 percent of 9,000 doctors restrict the number of Medicare patients in their practice. The rate is even higher among primary care physicians. "There is going to be a real issue of, how many doctors do we have, is it enough, and do we pay them at rates that are reasonable that they can maintain a livelihood?" says our guest, Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and CEO of New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Comments [7]

medical blog

With the 2011 <a href=“http://drpullen.com/medicarepreventativeservices/”>medicare preventative services</a> there is somewhat more incentive for primary care docs to stay in Medicare.

Jan. 01 2011 03:43 PM

The issues of fear of going to a doctor, and being lazy about one's own health were addressed.

How about the fact that some people cannot afford to go to a doctor?

How about some greater cultural differences than language barriers? There are some women whom won't or cannot go to a doctor because their culture dictates that they only go to women doctors and there are actually few women doctors in all specialties including obstetrics and gynecology.

Some people never had a personal or family doctor and can only randomly throughout their lives get medical care and mostly, or only, when it involves something really medically serious, not mere check-ups.

How about when a person has a certain kind of insurance like Medicaid that makes it hard for a person to find the right doctor since only the doctors whom are not right for the patient are the ones whom will take the particular kind of insurance? Some people would have to travel farther to get to a doctor whom accepts their insurance and also performs the particular medical service that they need.
I have been unable to find doctors who's medical facilities are located in or near the city in which I live and whom are the the kind of specialists that I need, and also it is important to go to a doctor who's compatable with you as a person or it is useless to spend money seeing that physician.
It is true that one of the major stumbling blocks is that the staff of certain hospitals, clinics, or doctor's offices are not easy to deal with and they act as if they are trying to get you to justify your need to see a physician. On the other hand, there are times in which too many needless standard expensive tests are done before a patient can have his or her actual medical problem addressed.

Jun. 29 2010 09:18 AM
Linda Dillman from New York

What about a growing role for nurse practitioners (NPs) in primary care?
This is what NPs excel in and we provide
high quality care to an underserved population. Unfortunately, Medicare presents many barriers to our practice. This is an issue that must be dealt with.

Jun. 24 2010 08:01 AM

Don't write off the Boomers ability to deal with this issue. I understand that doctors are not happy with the current status of the system of payment.

But I see Health Care Reform as a joint effort between the doctors and patients. Which means that we are going to have to help Congress get a understanding that a fair payment for service is a part of that reform.

Since I am a Boomer it is not difficult for me to imagine that we will be doing some form of input and persuasion in this issue. We have inter net access and we will organize to deal with the problems and help with the solutions.

Jun. 23 2010 08:41 AM
B,CHAPPELLE

I THINK THAT DOCTOR DO A GREAT JOB, AND A GREAT ASSET TO ANY HOSPITAL NO MATTER WHAT SERVICE THERE ON. YES I THINK THEIR IS NO MONEY THAT CAN PAY THEM FOR THE JOB THEY DO,THEY GO ABOVE N BE ON THEY JOB TITLE. YES THEY SHOULD GET MORE MONEY,THERE ARE LIKE FOOD IN WATER CAN,T BE WITH OUT

Jun. 22 2010 02:17 PM
Dr Z

Leave the politics at home. Until the morons in Congress fix this permanently, you'll continue to see Docs leaving Medicare in droves. Whether you're Dem or Repub, good luck finding a Medicare doc.

Jun. 21 2010 05:30 PM
Robert Gilstein

Well let's just fund more WARS to make sure those evil doctors don't get paid enough to take care of us.
Where is that debate?
Why don't people realize that it's WAR and so-called 'defense' dept. boondoggles that are robbing us boomers of our future health?
(Defense Dept. budget $1 trillion/yr.; Iraq and Afghanistan over $1 trillion each so far.)

Jun. 21 2010 01:16 PM

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