Thursday, May 05, 2011

What good is Medicare if doctors won’t accept it? Thank Republicans in Congress if you can’t find an experienced doctor to treat you.

Someone I know in California is 66 and has a heart condition. He’s had open heart surgery in the past. He had to wait six weeks to get to see his own cardiologist.

He’s not alone.

The problem is that while inflation increases, our Republican Congress has been whittling away at reimbursement rates, all in the name of cutting medical costs. Consequently, fewer and fewer doctors are accepting Medicare patients.

What follows is the general impression I get of paperwork that people have been getting from Medicare recently. It certainly feels right:

Your doctor charged: $9,750

For: nine hours of tricky neurosurgery.

We reimbursed him: $18.79.

You may be liable for the balance.

Have a nice day.

Sadly, doctors are being reimbursed at a pinchpenny rate that would bring joy to the heart of Ebenezer Scrooge. Yes, we need to control Medicare costs. But the way to start is by allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies, medical equipment makers and other profiteers – the big businesses that are out to make the elderly swallow a bitter pill of backbreaking costs on medications for chronic illnesses. These are costs that no other western country is paying.

Little wonder that last year, the number of doctors accepting Medicare patients dropped to record lows thanks to ridiculous provider payment rates.

And little wonder that Buzzflash.com is declaring, “Eric Cantor implies he supports death panels, as long as insurance companies decide and the rich are exempted.”

As long as the Republicans keep driving down doctors’ reimbursements we can be sure that:

•Fewer doctors will accept Medicare patients

• More Medicare patients will die or become gravely ill unnecessarily

• Fewer smart and talented people will want to incur the debt for the education it takes to become doctors. Instead, they’ll seek out a career trading subprime securities derivatives – and make billions while the nation grows poorer and sicker.

•Thanks to Republican (and some Democratic) servants of the insurance agency, there will be one class of medical care for the very rich and for Congress. The rest of us can face Republican death panels.

No wonder they’ve carried on about these death panels in the past. The Republicans invented the idea and evidently are champing at the bit to deploy it.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The General Fund has nothing to do with Social Security and Medicare. They have their own full Trust Fund paid out of payroll taxes. But the money is loaned out to run the government. It must be paid back as needed. So if you kill Social Security, will the loaned out money go back to the people who paid in or will it pay for tax cuts. The ones that were to pay for themselves? It has nothing to do with the deficit unless you mean to loot the trust fund to pay for tax cuts. Now why the lies? d4d

New York Crank said...

Congratulations, Anonymous. You ran around in a circle so fast that you bit your own tail.

I agree that the General Fund loands out money to run the government, although it shouldn't be allowed to. I agree it must be paid back as needed. If there's no Medicare or Social Security, there's no payback. We just rob the sick and elderly to cut taxes for billionaires.

And that ain't no lie.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Cank