Mad about SGR


Category : Medical Rants

Enjoying Alabama ACP at the beach despite: Politics and the SGR

The Alabama Chapter of the ACP is meeting in Orange Beach.  I type this missive in my room overlooking the beach with no oil visible in our water. The chapter meeting is great as always, but having our ACP President (Fred Ralston) here adds a wonderful extra benefit.

Fred gave a wonderful update on health care reform first, and then he addressed the SGR folly.  Sitting next to him, I watched his Blackberry flying with emails as he approved the important following statement – ACP Statement on Congress’ Failure to Stop Medicare Physician Payment Cuts

The statement starts –

The American College of Physicians (ACP) is deeply disappointed by Congress’ recurring failure to pass legislation to stop a devastating 21 percent cut in Medicare and TRICARE payments to physicians. Because of Congress’ failure, the cut will go into effect on June 1.

Internists and their patients are rightly angered by the fact that too many of their elected representatives and senators chose to put politics ahead of ensuring that seniors and military families have access to health care.

We acknowledge and appreciate that the House and Senate leadership and President Obama have advocated for legislation to halt the immediate cut and had sought a longer-term approach.

Yet the fact remains that time-and-time again, too many members of Congress from both political parties have refused to support legislation to prevent the cut and provide long-term stability in Medicare.

They have declined to support legislation to move toward a better and more stable payment system, which could have served as the basis for permanent repeal of the unworkable Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.

They have withheld their support even though they knew that the result will be to further undermine physicians’ and patients’ faith in Medicare and TRICARE.

They withheld their support, even though they knew it would introduce chaos into physician practices. Physicians, once again, are left with trying to keep their doors open for their patients without knowing, from month to month, how much Medicare and TRICARE will reimburse them for their services

In addition, the downward trajectory of Congress’ approach to the SGR problem has further undermined physicians confident in Medicare and TRICARE.

I really dislike both parties right now.  I hate the political games they play.  We cannot blame one party, because each party has had power and failed to fix the SGR.  The SGR began as a flawed premise.  No one believes that we will not once again get a reprieve, but frankly I hardly give a damn.

Congress keeps jerking us around.  They show no seriousness, no sense of integrity, and no willpower.  They love to posture and now love to be against whatever the other party favors.  If I tried to do my job in this fashion, I would have to look for a new job.

A pox on both houses we should exclaim.  A curse on the cable news networks that fuel the fire of their antagonism. 

Many years ago John F. Kennedy wrote the book Profiles in Courage.  Were someone trying to write a sequel today, it would have the name Profiles in Sleazy Cowardice.

I am mad.  Every physician I know is mad.  Patients should join us in expressing anger.  Physicians cannot trust Congress if the cannot repair this absurdity.

I am mad.

I urge every medical blogger to join me in a massive blog protest against these political games.

I am mad.

Comments (11)

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Robert Centor, Kenny Lin, MD. Kenny Lin, MD said: So am I! RT @medrants – Mad about SGR […]

I am Happy. I wish the cuts would stand. And I wish physicians every where would exit Medicare. And I wish Congress the best of luck to deal with the consequences.

Economics and politics will never mix. Medicare has 50 million votes. Physicians have under a million. Who’s going to win every time?

The solution exists in turning one million votes into 50 million votes. And that will never happen as long as the 50 million votes are happy with FREE=MORE. 50 million people are happy with Medicare because it’s FREE=MORE

Take away FREE=MORE and your problem fixes itself immediately. That begins by removing the more. Without physicians, Medicare is worthless.

I would agree with Happy if it didn’t hurt Medicare patients as much as it would. It’s like the grandmother who sees the immature mom not responsibly taking care of her child. Grandma has to choose between teaching the mom a lesson at the baby’s expense, or bailing out the mom by taking over the care of the child. That’s how I feel about my medicare patients. I want congress to fix this problem but the political gaming at our expense is infuriating. I want the thing fixed and can’t see why they wouldn’t understand what suicide it would be if they let the 21% cut stand.

I concur. “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Well, you were praising the Congress not too long ago, for the justice they did to internists by “recalculating” their fees.
Reading some medical blogs helps me understand something that was always a puzzle : why did Jews stay put after Hitler came to power ? How is it possible that intelligent, educated people could live in such a delusional world, without grasping the reality ?
And now I know : you can teach facts, you can’t teach wisdom.

This is the same crowd that “passed health care reform”. Nothing new out of touch. Don’t like doctors they like power. I have the same confidence in Congress that I have before “NONE”

[…] the economics of avoiding the SGR fix, and check out Medical Rants on the “SGR folly” here. And, as always, let us know what you think directly — leave us a […]

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