Will physicians consider dropping Medicare patients?

In my last blog posting, I made reference to the AMA Patient Action Network. Will physicians really decide to not see Medicare patients if Medicare reimbursement cuts do occur later on this year? Here is a listserv reaction by fellow consultant Don Self – couldn’t have said it better myself:

I believe that many doctors will have a knee jerk reaction if they do the 10.1% cuts on July 1st and threaten to stop seeing Medicare patients, but I am very much hoping that smart office manages, administrators and spouses will convince them of how stupid of a move that would be and how detrimental to their income it would affect them.

I am seeing alot of doctors panicking now in the seminars.  This past week, I spoke to 900 physicians and at the end of the 1 hour seminar, most of the time, everyone gets up to leave.  In this one, it was pretty cool as almost no one got up to leave as one of the doctors asked me what would happen July 1st.  I answered that I’m not the great Carnac (let’s see how many people remember Johnny Carson), so I cannot tell the future or even predict today’s weather – but in the event that Medicare does suffer the 10% reduction in the conversion factor, several things will happen, in my opinion:

1.    Private and managed care companies will follow suit very quickly and reduce their UCRs, allowed, payments, etc…

2.    Some doctors will ignorantly stop seeing Medicare patients (and in some places, Medicare will REMAIN to be the highest payer)

3.    Some doctors will take the wrong approach (the ones that are taking it now) to the crisis by downsizing, trying to cut costs and services to their patients, reducing benefits to their staff – which will result in them getting staff whose main occupational phrase has been “Do you want fries with that”, and they’ll join the ranks of those that have gone bankrupt.

4.    Some doctors will realize they are businesspeople and they’ll be smart enough to see what other successful businesses have done when they were hit by adversity and they’ll make positive changes in their practice.  Overall – the cuts that will cause them to wake up and improve their practice will be a blessing in disguise to them.

So – yes – I think it’s a good idea for people to contact their elected representatives, but I personally do not think it will have as much of an effect as doctors could achieve if they approached the whole thing intelligently and with some proactive preparation.   It still amazes me how many doctors have NO clue what power they have, so they whine and cry that this elected official or that one doesn’t treat them right instead of going TO the people that elected those representatives and EDUCATE them.   Instead – they rely on the major media, the papers, CNN, FOX, Oprah, Greg House MD, etc… – which is really really stupid in my opinion.    Their willingness to not help themselves  reminds me of a video on my website of 2 people on an escalator that you can see at   

It’s the same mentality as the folks at New Orleans before, during and AFTER Katrina. 

Yep – folks will disagree with me – and that’s cool as it makes people think and if that is all I can accomplish – then it’s a step in the right direction.

Have questions? I’m here to help.