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Ann F. Mick, M.D.: It’s time for Congress to stabilize Medicare

To the editor:

Seniors, people with disabilities, military families and their health care providers should take note: There is hope that Congress is finally moving to make important changes to Medicare.

For more than a decade, Medicare reimbursements to physicians have been ruled by a formula calling for large annual cuts in payments. Every year, physicians have worried about the viability of their practices; Medicare and Tricare military patients have wondered if their doctors would stop seeing them.

As Congress considers legislation to repeal the current payment formula and develop quality measures of care, the physicians of the Hampshire District Medical Society and the Massachusetts Medical Society urge Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and Rep. Jim McGovern to continue to work toward these changes. A new and better payment formula and improved quality measures must be created to stabilize Medicare well into the future and give patients peace of mind in knowing their doctors will be there for them. At the same time it must help physicians, particularly those in small offices, to keep their practices viable and open to their patients.

Congress has never been closer to fixing a broken system than it is now. It should capture the opportunity and act.

Ann F. Mick, M.D.


Ann. F. Mick, M.D., is president of the Hampshire District Medical Society.

Legacy Comments1

There will always be doctors that will be glad to get Medicare payments. If your whole practice is fashioned around larger reimbursement amounts that come from insurance companies (which won't last), Medicare won't seem like enough. But if new doctors (and some present ones) understand that salaries will never be as high, Medicare will seem fair. The financial model around which a medical practice is fashioned and the salaries doctors are payed is based on money that ULTIMATELY comes mostly from our VERY high insurance premiums which are taken in monthly installments, making the payment process slightly less painful, but very painful nonetheless, making it possible for doctors to get high fees. If you pay for a procedure with cash, you may have second thoughts about which doctor you go to. If paid for with insurance you don't care. That's a basic truism of human behavior. Dr. Mick is saying that patients have concerns that doctors might not seem them. If one doctor doesn't see them, another probably will. And Dr. Mick represents the Hampshire District Medical Society, whose members have a direct financial interest in making sure Medicare payments don't go down. To them I say, welcome to the real world, a world in which the cost of every bandage and the cost of every procedure performed by them really does matter, and getting compensation is not just a bargaining game played to get the highest rate possible from an insurance company.

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