Doctors prepare for possible Medicare pay cuts

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Huge Medicare pay cuts for doctors could be coming, if Congress does not act quickly.

Folks at the Hazard Clinic are putting up flyers they received from the American Medical Association. The flyers direct folks to call their elected officials and demand they act, so services for Medicare patients will not be cut.

It's an issue folks at the Hazard Clinic are all too familiar with.

"Here we go again. As you know, the medical profession has been faced with this on several different occasions," said Dr. Mitchell Wicker.

Dr. Wicker is bracing for December first. If Congress does not act by then, his payments from Medicare could be cut by as much as 23 percent.

"It disrupts the care of our patients because we cannot budget the things we need to do. Taking care of our patients is not a cheap undertaking," said Wicker.

"Some of our services would be really hard to offer, and then you've got to think about your staffing. You've got a lot of overhead when you run a medical practice," said Stephanie Wooton, Business Manager.

Those services include a house calls program, targeted toward Medicare patients who cannot come in for office visits.

"We really don't have any way to plan for it because we don't know what's going to happen," said Wooton.

Although there is no way to predict what could happen, Dr. Wicker says one thing will not change.

"I'm not going to look at the folks I've been seeing for years and years and tell them I'm not going to fool with you anymore. Delivering care to patients is a profession. The underlying tools and the way we do it is the business," said Wicker.

Dr. Wicker tells us his main concern is for the future, as these issues with Medicare may cause other doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients altogether.

Thursday the Senate approved a measure to delay the cut in funding until the end of December, but now the House must also approve it.

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