Posts Tagged ‘Medicare Beneficiaries’

Access to Care: the Issue the Liberals Forgot About

by Jason Whitman on Friday, July 1st, 2011

This is article 25 of 699 in the topic Healthcare

Courtesy Scientific American

As the Pelosi-led congress hurriedly passed Obamacare in a late-night affront to the American people, I thought to myself how odd it was that liberals NEVER seem to learn from the historical record of the massive unintended consequences of their legislation. Specifically, I was reminded of a quote that the best health insurance in the world is worthless if no doctors take it. The passage of Obamacare introduced a new high-level of uncertainty into our clinical practices. Already facing lower reimbursement rates and escalating expenses, this uncertainty has not been welcome. I believe the question now is not so much will doctors be leaving clinical practice, but how many and how rapidly?

Medicare and Medicaid Implosion

Most physicians (which I am considered to be by Medicare) are enrolled in the two major government-run health insurance programs, Medicare and Medicaid. Decreasing reimbursements and onerous regulatory burdens, particularly with Medicare, have inspired many to quit participating in these programs. Many people do not realize that Medicare can audit your office, look at any records they wish, even non-medicare patients, and determine whether you are following their record-keeping, billing, and coding practices to the letter. If they do not like the way you keep records or code for exams, even non-Medicare patients, they can fine your practice enormous sums of money by applying those supposed infractions across your Medicare patient base. Given shrinking reimbursements and risk of participation, it is not difficult to fathom why doctors are declining to participate.

Consider that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission reported in 2008 that 28% of Medicare beneficiaries looking for a primary care physician had trouble finding one, up from 24% the year before.

More and more of my fellow doctors are turning away Medicare patients because of the diminished reimbursements and the growing delay in payments. I’ve had several new Medicare patients come to my office in the last few months with multiple diseases and long lists of medications simply because their longtime provider — who they liked — abruptly stopped taking Medicare

This is a going trend and has been for several years, even before the passage of Obamacare. In Texas, the situation is becoming alarming.

Texas doctors are opting out of Medicare at alarming rates, frustrated by reimbursement cuts they say make participation in government-funded care of seniors unaffordable.

Two years after a survey found nearly half of Texas doctors weren’t taking some new Medicare patients, new data shows 100 to 200 a year are now ending all involvement with the program. Before 2007, the number of doctors opting out averaged less than a handful a year.

More than 300 doctors have dropped the program in the last two years, including 50 in the first three months of 2010, according to data compiled by the Houston Chronicle.

This is not a small problem. It is severely impacting the ability of seniors to find practitioners who are willing to see them. And this is not just happening in Texas, it is happening all over the nation.

Reimbursements are a major component of this of course.

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Obama failing to obey Medicare law?

by John Lott on Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

This is article 5 of 8 in the topic Entitlement Programs

The Obama administration’s statement that this law simply isn’t binding on them is pretty shocking.

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is continuing to press the White House to take on entitlements, this time accusing President Obama of failing to follow a provision of a Medicare law.

Ryan claims the White House owes Congress a plan for shoring up Medicare funding because the federal government is covering more than its targeted share of the program. Ryan points to a provision of the 2003 Medicare law that requires the president to act.

“The president has failed to lead, again, on entitlement reform. By ignoring their legal requirement to submit a plan that would rectify Medicare’s funding imbalance, the Obama administration threatens the sustainability of this critical program for current and future Medicare beneficiaries,” Ryan said Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget brushed off Ryan’s latest criticism, dismissing the law’s requirement as a misleading framework for determining whether Medicare is solvent. She also raised constitutional questions about whether Congress can make such a demand of the executive branch. . . .

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ObamaCare: Actor Andy Griffith’s “misleading” Medicare advertisements exposed

by Jim Kouri on Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

This is article 128 of 699 in the topic Healthcare

The clever and charming TV lawyer “Matlock” appears to have been either duped by an unscrupulous leftist political machine or he appears to be complicit in betraying his fellow senior citizens by spouting dialogue written for him by members of the cynical Obama Administration.

TV and motion picture star Andy Griffith. Photo: CBS

A public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption obtained documents from the Obama Department of Health and Human Services regarding a series of three Medicare television advertisements featuring actor Andy Griffith, which were deemed misleading by a number of press outlets, including the nonpartisan FactCheck.org.

The ObamaCare support team obviously believed that Griffith, who starred as Sheriff Andy Taylor on the long-running TV series The Andy Griffith Show and later played a criminal defense lawyer on the equally popular series Matlock, was the perfect spokesperson for an unpopular program. With the majority of Americans opposed to ObamaCare and its proponents, who would be a better and more believable spokesman than an elderly and homey Andy Griffith?
The Obama Administration spent $3,184,000 in taxpayer funds to produce and air the Griffith “propaganda” spots on national television in September and October of 2010 to educate “Medicare beneficiaries, caregivers, and family members about forthcoming changes to Medicare as a result of the Affordable Care Act.”   The political advertisements were intended to decrease the amount of damage suffered by the Democrat Party at the polls on November 2.
According to the documents released to the top watchdog group Judicial Watch:
“Mr. Griffith is featured in three Medicare television ads and provided his services to the government at no charge pursuant to a gratuitous services agreement. These three spots, ‘1965,’ ‘Music to My Ears,’ and ‘Cozy Chair,’ [were only aired] in September and October 2010.  The production for the three advertisements cost $404,000; the total amount budgeted for the national media placement is $2.78 million, which breaks down per ad to $754,000 (‘1965’), $1,112,000 (‘Music to My Ears’), and $1,390,000 (‘Cozy Chair’).”
In press statements touting the new Griffith advertising program the Obama White House described its purpose:  “The Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] will strengthen the health care system for all Americans, but senior citizens in particular stand to benefit from the new law.  And the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is getting a little help delivering the good news from a well-known TV star: Andy Griffith.”
However, according to FactCheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, the advertisements intentionally misinform the American people: “Would the sheriff of Mayberry mislead you about Medicare?  Alas, yes.  In a new TV spot from the Obama administration, actor Andy Griffith, famous for his 1960s portrayal of the top law enforcement official in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., touts benefits of the new health care law.  Griffith tells his fellow senior citizens, ‘like always, we’ll have our guaranteed [Medicare] benefits.’  But the truth is that the new [Obamacare] law is guaranteed to result in benefit cuts for one class of Medicare beneficiaries — those in private Medicare Advantage plans.”
The new documents show the public relations firm Porter Novelli produced the advertising campaign.

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