It’s no surprise that the end of year politics include conversations of the looming Medicare doc fix. Once again this issue is plaguing the political system and every health care provider across the United States. But instead of actually fixing the problem, Congress will most likely kick the can down the road and hope someone else fixes it.
The “doc fix” will prevent a 27 percent reimbursement cut to health care providers under Medicare starting in 2012.
There are a lot of things wrong with the current structure of the doc fix and these are just a few problems:
1. Health care reform – and the savings it claims – assumes the Medicare doc fix will continue to reduce payments to doctors. The longer a doc fix is implemented, the less health care reform saves.
2. Physicians are paid for the services they provide and not how well they provide care. Many argue this leads to unnecessary services and procedures.
3. The cost of fixing the doctor payments is around $38 billion for the next 10 years. If the doctor fix isn’t replaced then it will continue to grow.
4. The doc fix isn’t a fix. It’s a temporary solution.
5. If a doc fix is passed for 2012, there is a proposal to include a new reimbursement cut of 37 percent in 2014.
Naturally the health care industry lobbies against these cuts and sometimes threatens to stop providing care to Medicare recipients. If Congress doesn’t pass legislation for a fix before 2012, payments for physicians will be held in January until there is a resolution.