Uncertainty Over Medicare Continues as Doctors See More Cuts to Reimbursement

With the number of doctors in the northern Michigan region, you would think finding one for seniors wouldn't be an issue but it's starting to become one. More doctors are dropping Medicare because the reimbursement rates continue to get cut. On Friday, Congress missed a deadline to overturn the latest cut, which means doctors will absorb more costs. This week, Congress can still overturn the latest 21-percent cut to reimbursement to doctors, but they would just be delaying it for up to six months and not actually fixing the problem. “Currently for every dollar we charge Medicare for the services we provide, we get reimbursed 83 cents on that dollar,” says Dr. Nathan March at West Front Primary Care in Traverse City. “If they were to cut an additional 21 percent of that 83 percent, that would equal about 68 cents on that dollar.” And that's tough to stomach for many doctors trying to run a business. Some, like March, have already chosen to stop accepting new Medicare patients, but are still treating existing ones. One of the main concerns for seniors is finding access to care. As doctors lose more money through Medicare patients, more are dropping the program. “As less and less physicians participate with Medicare programs, their ability to see a physician will get more and more difficult,” says March. Doctors say the reimbursement rate is comparable to the rate received in 2001. 9&10's Ryan Raiche and Photojournalist Justin DePrekel have the story.