Saturday, January 01, 2011

Medical News: House Passes One-Month SGR Patch - Avoids Cutting Medicare Physician Payment Rates by 23% for One Month.

For anyone who is on Medicare and reading this post, this article is a good summary of an issue that should be of great concern.  If the measure, just postponed for 31 days by the current and Lame Duck Congress, is allowed to take effect next month, a 23% cut will be made to fees Medicare will allow for both physician and facilities.  The AMA - not without a horse in this race - has said that such a huge cut will cause a Medicare "meltdown".  Less directly impacted people may not have concerns, but perhaps they should, as they will want to be on Medicare when they are older or if they become disabled.  One issue is that many analysts believe that a significant number of physicians will stop taking Medicare.  So, if you like your doctor, or your clinic for out-patient services, you may have to find another. 

Personally, I worry about it because I have a complicated group of issues, and a fifteen year chronology - or history, if you prefer - and I could never replace the diagnostic history, the  knowledge of the progression of the several issues I have, and the inputs from various specialists that my physician of fifteen years knows well.  I also worry about keeping my rheumatologist - the second rheumatologist I've seen - who finally gave me a diagnosis for my health problems.  The average time to diagnosis for people like me with Ankylosing Spondylitis is between 7-10 years, and it wasn't until I got real top-flight specialists that I was diagnosed and given treatment that helped with pain, inflammation, etc.  Because I have had numerous injuries (which could cause some of my symptoms), and I have osteoarthritis (which could have caused some of the problems and pain in my joints), and I have developed a number of endocrine issues (low thyroid, ultra low testosterone, high cholesterol, low vitamin D, low HGH...), it has been a long, tough slog through tests and treatments and talking and doctor visits, blood work, PT, etc.  Now that I know I have an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, I have a treatment plan.  That's great, but I would dread trying to get a new Primary Physician, Specialist, etc., up to speed on what has happened over fifteen years.  In fact, I doubt I could -even if they have my giant medical record, how would they have time to read it through and discuss it with me? 

No, I don't want to have to get new docs now that I am at long last being treated for the root cause of the many problems I've experienced over the past fifteen years).  I do understand that somehow we as a nation must reduce the cost of medical care, and that may mean some sacrifices for all of us.  But on a personal level this possibility causes a fair bit of anxiety in me.  And after reading this article, it may give everyone pause for thought.

Medical News: House Passes One-Month SGR Patch - in Washington-Watch, Washington Watch from MedPage Today

Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
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