(Medicare payment) Reductions will be made over four years rather than imposed at once in 2010, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said yesterday in a statement. In July, the agency said it planned to slice $1.4 billion, or more than 10 percent, in payments for each of the two specialties, triggering what an advocate promised would be a “tooth and nail” battle.So while specialists won't be cut quite as bad, primary care will not see their efforts rewarded significantly either.
The administration argued that the lower reimbursements for specialists would make more dollars available for lower-paid non-specialists who can focus on preventing expensive, chronic illnesses. That would tame the growth in medical costs, one goal of President Barack Obama’s effort to remake the U.S. system of care. Under yesterday’s plan, family doctors and nurse practitioners would get half the proposed increase.
And yet, any real effort to look for simple ways to cut costs in health care system is ignored by Congress. One only has to look at the waste of health care dollars implicit in pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer advertising - and the fact that only two countries in the world (the U.S. and New Zealand) permit it - to see the hipocracy of the reform efforts underway. Instead, doctors are the easy target for "reform" as more and more ads for Viagra, Lipitor, and "P.A.D." flash accross our TV screens.
Sure it's not the only place costs can be cut. But how about ridding our system of such bloat before biting the hand that cares for us?