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Another possible primary-care cliff


Forget your anxiety about the Medicare-SGR formula for a minute, Consider the 10 percent Medicare cut to primary-care physicians that would take effect next Jan. 1 unless Congress acts.

Bob Doherty, a vice president of the American College of Physicians, notes  that if Congress  lets Medicare primary-care payments be cut on Jan. 1, it would be the second straight year when  such payments to primary-care physicians — and only those physicians — would be cut by double-digits.

“Medicaid payments to primary-care doctors were cut in most states by an average of 40 percent at the start of this year because Congress failed to reauthorize a federally funded program, called the Medicaid Primary Care Pay Parity program that, in 2013 and 2014, raised Medicaid payments for office visits, vaccines, and other primary care services to no less than the applicable Medicare rates.”

Because the elderly vote at much higher levels than do poor people, Medicaid tends to get much harder hit than Medicare in funding cuts.

Mr. Doherty notes that “Republicans wouldn’t sign on {to continuing the primary-care incentives} were varied, but were mostly due to the fact that since Medicaid Primary Care Pay Parity was created by Obamacare, which they loathe and vowed to repeal, they couldn’t see their way to supporting a program created by it. Plus because many of them believe the Medicaid program is fundamentally flawed, they couldn’t see putting federal dollars to prop up its reimbursements to primary-care physicians.”




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