Nov 16, 2007

Podcast TMA: The Future of Medicare

What's wrong with Medicare? Why are physicians so upset about the program and what the government is doing to them and their patients? What can be done to save Medicare? What should individual physicians, TMA, and the AMA do now to put it back on its feet?

Podcast TMA posed these questions to three TMA leaders at the interim meeting of the AMA House of Delegates this week in Honolulu. Behind the microphone were TMA President-elect Josie Williams, MD, of Bryan-College Station; Temple cardiologist Jim Rohack, MD, a member of the AMA Board of Trustees and former TMA president; and Charlotte Smith, MD, a physical medicine and rehabilitation medicine specialist from Austin.

Listen to the show and please post your own thoughts in the "COMMENTS" section below.

Our experts opined that senior citizens and Texans with disabilities will soon find it harder and harder to locate a physician who accepts new Medicare patients. This is because Medicare payments to physicians come nowhere near covering the cost of providing care, and every year the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) threatens to cut payments even more unless Congress intervenes.

Among the possible solutions Drs. Smith, Rohack, and Williams explore is combining Medicare's hospital and physician trust funds (Part A and Part B, respectively) into a single payment system, permitting physicians to balance bill Medicare patients, and devising a new payment plan that actually covers the cost of providing services. They call on physicians to become actively involved in the fight by calling, writing, and visiting their U.S. senators and representatives and be being members of AMA, TMA, and their county societies.

Those physicians who are thinking of dropping out of the Medicare system should think carefully before making that decision because the repercussions are so severe.

Here are some links of interest: