April 28, 2010
Physicians on SERMO Discuss Ramifications of Tying Licensure to Participation in Medicare/Medicaid
Cambridge, MA — SERMO, the world’s largest online community for physicians, today announced its weekly hot topic. Over 1,750 physicians responded to a SERMO poll and discussion about Massachusetts Senate proposal MA 2170. This bill stipulates that physicians must participate in government run programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Massachusetts’ state plan) in order to maintain state medical licensure. Furthermore, the bill states that physicians “must accept payment at the lowest of the statutory 20 reimbursement rate.” Reimbursement rates would be set at 110% of Medicare billing, leaving physicians with very little to pay the general business expenses necessary to run a practice.
More than 70% of physicians polled indicated that the passage of such a law would encourage them to leave the state or retire early. They also expressed concern regarding the lower reimbursement rates, which would simply not allow them to earn enough income to stay in practice. Like any small business owner, a solo practitioner is faced with overhead costs including “office rent, staff, transcription, equipment, IT, and billing,” as noted by one Neurologist. An Ophthalmologist writes, “those of us who love seeing patients and have no desire to leave medicine still have to pay our bills.”
This bill proposal would affect patients as well as Massachusetts’s physicians. Many respondents expressed concern regarding the impact that such legislation will have on the quality of patient care and may indeed have the opposite affect for which it is intended, actually leading to worsened access to the healthcare system. One Neurologist writes, “Seeing more patients to make ends meet will lead to the erosion of quality of care.” One Gastroenterologist states, “the doctor patient relationship is being abrogated by having other people (government and insurance companies) come between the service and its payment.” An Orthopaedist declares, “I will not give substandard care so the result is no care.” A contributing Neurologist reminds us: “American medicine remains top-notch in the world because there are incentives to do so.”
The additional pressure to see more patients in order to stay in business may exacerbate the forecasted physician shortage. As an Emergency Medicine physician states, “Talented individuals will seek employment elsewhere, perhaps in other fields”. A General Surgeon foresees physicians “will leave long established practices for greener pastures.” An OBGYN specialist states, “I would retire or leave the state.”
SERMO is the largest online physician community, where over 114,000 physicians collaborate to improve patient care. SERMO provides access to its community for clients that need fast, actionable insights into treatments, drugs and devices. Learn more at www.SERMO.com.