In yet another example of the failed policies of the Obama Administration including the president’s decision to cut more than $500 billion to fund his takeover of healthcare, a recent article in the Colorado Public News highlights the problems that Coloradans are having with access to Medicare. This should not be surprising to anyone who has followed the growing problem of Medicare access across the country which the president’s government takeover of health care law only exacerbates.
Of the 100 family, general practice, and internal medicine doctors contacted by Colorado Public News, only 34 said they would accept new Medicare patients. This is particularly curious because the list of 100 doctors was derived “using the nation’s official website that lists thousands of doctors the site claims treats patients on Medicare.”
According to the article, the findings contrast sharply with the government’s statement that 94 percent of Colorado physicians take Medicare.
“Colorado Public News found that while many doctors may be signed up for Medicare, or [may] be paid by Medicare for a certain number of patients—that doesn’t mean those doctors will accept any new patients.”
Several doctors in the survey said they hesitate to take Medicare patients because “Medicare doesn’t pay enough, pays late, and can require a nightmare of paperwork and telephone calls.”
Even long-time patients are being dropped by doctors and left with limited options.
For example, “Robert Took was stunned when he received a letter from his endocrinologist of 15 years informing him that he and other patients on Medicare were being dropped from further coverage.
“Took, who is 60 and disabled, immediately began looking for another doctor. By the time he was done, he had contacted 31 physicians. ‘One. One called back,’ Took said in an interview.
This is strikingly similar to Kay Haneline’s experience described in a previous Medicare on Main Street when she and her husband were both dumped by their clinic when they hit 65. They could have stayed and paid cash at their old clinic but then couldn’t have used their Medicare or secondary insurance. ‘The whole experience was distasteful,’ she said. ‘I called over 30 different doctors and none of them would take us.’”
The Colorado Public News article goes on to describe how doctors are reluctant to take on new Medicare patients because they tend to have more complex medical issues which require additional time that may not be reimbursed by Medicare. “‘By definition they’re elderly or disabled and harder to treat’” according to one hospital administrator.
And yet the Obama Administration takes no action and has no plan to remedy this growing problem.
Mike Fierberg, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), told the article’s author that he was not surprised by the survey findings. He explains that CMS does not bother to track whether doctors are accepting new Medicare patients because CMS cannot produce a list; a problem because “‘physicians can decline any patient on a day-to-day basis,’” says Fierberg.
So what should Medicare beneficiaries do? Another Colorado hospital administrator advises seniors not to wait until they are ill to find a doctor. “‘Keep looking around and making phone calls,’” she suggests.
Really? America’s seniors should not have to worry about access to a doctor in 2012. The president could have addressed this growing problem somewhere in his 2,700 page law but instead cut more than $500 billion out of the Medicare program to pay for new entitlements we cannot afford.
Remember Mr. Took who made 31 phone calls only to hear back from one doctor? It’s a good bet he’d agree that the Obama Administration has yet again failed America’s seniors.