Thursday, June 24, 2010

If you're old or military, you're screwed

(Update for June 25: The House on Thursday approved a six-month plan to prevent a steep cut in doctors’ fees paid by Medicare, agreeing to a short-term solution that Speaker Nancy Pelosi called “totally inadequate” but said the House had decided to adopt after concluding that the Senate was hopelessly gridlocked and could do no better. Full story in the New York Times.)

It's enough to make you sick, but you can't afford to get sick anymore -- especially if you're a senior citizen or a military family member or military retiree -- because of our increasingly inept, incompetent and corrupt government.

Let's talk Medicare and the so-called "doc-fix." This B.S. has been going on for more than a decade. A provision of Medicare ties reimbursement rates to the growth in the GDP. Whoever thought that up should be taken out and shot, but the point now is that every so often Congress votes to put off the adjustment, while actually adding a few percentage points to reimbursement rates.

Medicare has recently reduced the reimbursement rate 21 percent, since Congress can't seem to get its act together. This not only affects seniors, but also military families and retirees, because Tricare is now tied to Medicare. It was tough enough before to find a Tricare doctor -- it will be even harder now. If the 21 percent reduction remains in place, the result is pretty much that seniors and military people won't be able to find health care, let alone afford it.

The Senate, on Friday, June 18, 2010, voted to extend the provision once again, adding about a 2 percent increase. But Queen Pelosi won't support it because the Senate bill doesn't include some $100 billion worth of other unrelated pet projects of hers and her cronies. They're supposed to create jobs, but y'all know how effective that is.

So if she gets her way, most doctors won't take Medicare patients or Tricare patients, because they can't afford to. Would you work for someone if you have to pay them to work? How many businesses would stay open if they operated at a loss?

From Dr. Michael A. Newman says in the Cap Times (a liberal site): Health reform at risk without Medicare fix
The reform legislation passed in March will greatly increase demand for physicians’ services. But each year, more doctors are declining to participate in Medicare. Physicians, especially those providing primary care, are reimbursed by Medicare at rates 25 to 35 percent below those of other insurance programs. And the Senate action Friday came too late to prevent the rates from being cut 21 percent. A definitive solution is needed, soon, to keep physicians on board for reform.

An American Medical Association online survey last month of more than 9,000 physicians found that 31 percent of primary care physicians -- defined as family practice, general practice, internal medicine and obstetrics/gynecology -- restrict the number of Medicare patients in their practice, mostly because they consider reimbursement rates too low. The AMA found that 60 percent of all physicians are considering opting out of Medicare. And older physicians who have more Medicare patients in their practices have been retiring earlier than expected.
Even the pro-Democrat New York Times reported more than a year ago on this problem of finding health-care under the government-run Medicare system. It may get even worse now.

We need to get these elitist, pompous, narcissistic bums out of Washington. They don't think they work for us anymore. They believe they are there to run us, tell us what's right for us, how to live our lives. I thought this was America, the land of the free individual.

As Dennis Prager so aptly puts it: The larger the government, the smaller the individual.

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