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.
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.