"Doc Fix" Kicked Down the Court.... Again

Jillian Bandes

12/8/2010 4:24:00 PM - Jillian Bandes
President Obama just approved another extension of the controversial "doc fix," which prevents a 25% cut to Medicaid payments from being enacted this January. Instead, the cuts will be enacted next January, unless further action is taken.

This is the same action taken by the Congress every single time the cuts have been set to expire in the past, and the fifth time such action has been taken by the Congress this year. It may be the best example of government punting on an issue that we can find, as multiple special interest groups lobby Congressmen again and again to prevent payment reductions to doctors.

This round of "doc fixing" costs $19.2 billion. Tara Bishop, an assistant professor of Public Health and Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, comments at USA Today:
...physician reimbursement will probably be cut in half over the next 20 years to accommodate...demographic shifts. The result? Doctors will certainly refuse to see Medicare patients, forcing many seniors to forgo preventive testing and proper chronic disease care.
Bishop is a proponent of the new health care bill, but it doesn't matter what side of the aisle you're on when it comes to Medicaid reimbursement. The current system of doctor payment is a boondoggle, and there's no easy way to fix it.