Friday, May 23, 2008
Another item from the American College of Surgeons:
COLLEGE OPPOSES RECOMMENDATION TO INCREASE PAYMENT TO PRIMARY CARE
On Friday, May 16, the American College of Surgeons and 13 surgical specialty societies sent a letter expressing strong opposition to a Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommendation, which calls for increasing payments to primary care physicians, while cutting reimbursement for all other physician services. The payment reductions for other physician services, including major surgical procedures, would occur because the pay hike for primary care must be budget-neutral. Only two of the 17 MedPAC Commissioners....opposed the recommendation. In their correspondence to MedPAC Chair Glenn Hackbarth, JD, the College and the other surgical societies noted that primary care is not the only specialty experiencing significant challenges in today’s health care environment. The letter cites several difficulties facing surgery, including decreased reimbursement, surgical workforce shortages, and increased practice expenses, especially for professional liability. Copies were sent to leading congressional committees with jurisdiction over Medicare policy. The letter concludes by noting that “[if] this recommendation is acted upon, the ones who stand to lose the most are not America’s surgeons but rather the patients who rely on the life-saving care that only surgeons can provide.” [Interesting side note: the Chair of the P.A.C. is a JD, ie, a lawyer!]
I've been known to say, when my clinic and the non-clinic docs in town were even more acrimoniously at war than they now seem to be, that the insurance companies must love it: set us upon ourselves, grabbing at whatever is offered lest the other side make an even less-favorable but exclusive deal. This sort of thing will get worse before it gets better. If it gets better. Which it won't.
It's amazing, isn't it? In our lifetimes -- who'da thunk it? -- we're actually going to see cataclysm: events are moving so fast, we're living in the time of the passing of the tipping point on oil, on the federal budget crisis, and we'll bear witness to the collapse of health care in the US. And there's a good chance that in my dying breath, as we rise up as a nation and begin killing one another, I'll be able to say, recalling the pivotal 2008 election which turned on race and religion and spouses and fear of the dark instead of on energy and budgets (and infrastructure, and health care, and environment....), "I TOLD YOU SOOOOOOO00000oooooooooooooooooo......."