February 24th, 2010 11:07 EST
Is Medicare is Cheating Seniors Out of Care?
Washington, D.C.: Chronically low Medicare reimbursement rates to physicians and hospitals are forcing doctors to limit the number of Medicare patients they see - or opt out of the program altogether - with devastating results to seniors` health care options, says a new study, "Medicare Doctor Shortage Endangers Seniors` Access to Care," by Matt Patterson of the National Center for Public Policy Research.
From the Southwest to Florida, from the Midwest to New York, primary care doctors and specialists at both hospitals and private practices are turning away Medicare patients because they cannot afford to treat them, the study concludes.
The report analyzes government data, health care provider statistics, and news reports from across the country to paint a frightening picture of a government program failing the most vulnerable members of our society: our seniors. Among the findings:
* Some Mayo Clinic facilities are no longer accepting Medicare patients for primary care, turning thousands of seniors away from their trusted physicians.
* 30 percent of Medicare patients seeking a new primary care doctor reported difficulty finding one, including 17 percent who claim they had "big" problems finding a new doctor.
* Only 73 percent of Medicare participating family doctors are accepting new Medicare patients.
* Only 38 percent of Texas primary care physicians say they will accept new Medicare patients in the face of low Medicare reimbursements.
* More than half of California hospitals reported operating at a loss, due in part to low Medicare reimbursements.
* Hospitals in Iowa report trouble recruiting new doctors thanks to low Medicare reimbursements, and warn that the trend may be a threat to the quality of future care.
Says Patterson, "At a time when President Barack Obama is proposing yet another $1 trillion health care plan, Medicare - the original government health insurance program - is going bankrupt, underfunding doctors, and cheating seniors out of care. Why don`t we worry about meeting our existing health care obligations before we take on additional burdens?"
"Medicare Doctor Shortage Endangers Seniors` Access to Care," by Matt Patterson, is available on the National Center For Public Policy Research website at http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA602.html.
The National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org) is a conservative, Constitution-respecting, free-market non-profit think-tank established in 1982. It is supported by the voluntary gifts of over 100,000 individual recent supporters, and receives less than one percent of its revenue from corporate sources.