New Legislation Seeks To Stop Cuts In Physician Reimbursements

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has introduced legislation to improve healthcare access for Medicare patients by guaranteeing that physicians' Medicare reimbursements would not be cut over the next 18 months. The bill also provides incentives for quality reporting and adopting health information technology.

"The problem is that now, because of the low reimbursement formulas, many doctors simply can't afford to keep their doors open and treat Medicare patients at these low rates. I recently read that in one county in Central Texas, only 18 percent of doctors will take Medicare patients because the formula is so low," says Cornyn, who adds that if the current Medicare formula is not changed, Texas physicians will lose $860 million between July 2008 and December 2009, a cut of $18,000 to each Texas physician. Cornyn's bill would also eliminate the sustainable growth rate beginning in 2010, replacing it with the Medicare economic index.

The act also would provide for increased incentives for reporting on the 10 most expensive disorders covered by Medicare. Beginning next year, the bonus payment for quality reporting would increase from 1.5 percent to 3 percent. "We need to start changing the way we reimburse physicians. We need a system that provides incentives for reduced costs and quality care, while protecting the eroded physician-patient relationship," Cornyn says.

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