Medicare in recent years has taken center stage in American politics. However, the issue could be more contentious than usual as Medicare reimbursement cuts could threaten medical practices. Now US Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) has responded to the threat these cuts pose to doctors across the country.
For two decades, physicians have seen cuts to their reimbursements. While the cost of running a practice, after adjusting for inflation, has increased by nearly half since 2001, reimbursements have been slashed by 26%. Because running a practice continues to get more expensive an increasing number of physicians are being forced to reduce their staffs and, in extreme cases, quit Medicare altogether.
US Rep. Bilirakis has spoken out against the cuts, and condemned the repeated cuts that Medicare providers deal with. "Continued year over year cuts to Medicare providers jeopardizes seniors' continued access to quality care," said Bilirakis.
"Further reductions will only serve to accelerate healthcare consolidation - whereby limiting patient choice and access, exacerbating healthcare inequities and a continued rise in overall healthcare costs." Bilirakis continued, "We need patient-centered reforms that ensure continued access to quality care for all Americans."
The issue may present complications for Florida residents, the state is home to the second-largest population of Medicare beneficiaries in the country – more than 4.8 million a large portion of them being seniors, who could lose access to quality physician care.
Currently, there is a bill in the US Congress called H.R. 2474, the Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act. This bipartisan measure would apply a permanent inflation-based adjustment to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) conversion factor, the formula that determines how doctors get reimbursed for treating patients with Medicare. It would allow the MPFS to keep pace with the rising costs of operating practice and ideally prevent more physicians from walking away from Medicare.