Calif. docs threaten to flee Medicare

Friday, September 30, 2005

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California physicians will leave the Medicare program in droves if reimbursement rates plummet as expected, according to a California Medical Association survey released in September.
In the survey, 60% of physician respondents said they would no longer accept new Medicare patients if the projected 26% Medicare payment cuts take place during the next six years. If that happens, beneficiaries will find it increasingly difficult to find a physician and maybe even to keep the one they have, according to the CMA.
In the CMA survey, 40% of 490 respondents said they would be forced to withdraw from the Medicare program entirely, and 10% of physicians felt strongly enough about the Medicare cuts that they wrote in that they would be forced to quit the practice of medicine because of the cuts.
On Jan. 1, 2006, Medicare payment rates for physicians will begin to nosedive 4%-5% a year, plummeting 26%-30% by 2012 due to a payment formula that is based on the gross domestic product rather than a medical cost index.