Physician Fiscal Cliff Predictions


Now that we have survived the Mayan Calendar "end of the world," physician organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians are trying to raise awareness of the "Physician Fiscal Cliff" of 27% Medicare Payment Cuts to Physicians as of January 1, 2013.

Does this seem like deja vu? Well, it is. The threat of Medicare Cuts to Physicians occur once or twice a year. One year ago, I wrote a post on this blog called "I will stop taking Medicare patients as of January 1st" which generated decent discussion on the blog, on twitter, and on facebook. AAFP has already posted information if physicians are considering opting out of Medicare.

So, here we go again. The bad news is that this story is not getting any traction in the main stream press - other than from our friends at Forbes yesterday who posted the article "27% Medicare Pay Cut For Doctors Real Danger In Fiscal Cliff." (BTW, the photo in the article is surgeons. This reinforces the bias against primary care physicians - Sheesh)

What's going to happen in this deal? Even with last night's failure of the US House to pass their "Plan B" bill, I'm still going to make these predictions which are in line to what has happened in past "crises":

  • The "Doc Fix" legislation will be split out of the main "Fiscal Cliff" negotiations and passed on it's own
  • Instead of a 27% cut, lawmakers will approve a 2 percent increase in payments, like they have in the past (Lawmakers will call this a 29% increase in physician payment. It's lawmaker math...)
  • This legislation will be for one month which will mean we'll all go through this again next month, similar to what happened in 2010 (Congress will not even consider a permanent Medicare SGR Fix)
  • The votes will be done and the President will sign on Thursday, December 27th, 2012

In past years, I've kept track of legislative updates on the website "The Hill" with looking for the key phrase "doc fix." What do you think of my predictions? Tell me where I'm wrong and tell me what your predictions are for this "Physician Fiscal Cliff" drama....