Letter to the Editor

Medicare cuts reduce access

Friday, September 1, 2006

To the editor:

As an osteopathic physician, I am concerned about access to health care for my patients. In 2007, physicians will experience a 5.1 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursements, with additional cuts projected through 2015. Without congressional intervention these cuts potentially could reach 37 percent over the next nine years, while my practice costs are expected to grow at a rate of 2 percent to 3 percent per year.

Physician reimbursements under Medicare are already well behind my actual costs of providing care. These cuts come at a time when millions of baby boomers are becoming eligible for Medicare benefits, placing greater strain on the Medicare program. Additional cuts compound the discrepancy between actual reimbursements and practice costs, forcing physicians to weigh their continued participation in the Medicare program. This will result in reduced access to physician services for millions of Medicare beneficiaries in the future.

I went into medicine to help patients and to improve quality of life, but no business can survive working at a loss over such a prolonged period of time. Medicare beneficiaries should be concerned about their continued access to physicians and specialists. As a patient myself, I am.