Family Physicians Cite Medicare Reimbursement Levels, and Rules and Regulations as Barriers to Caring for Medicare Patients
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224
“In a survey of family physicians, we found that more than one-fifth are not taking new Medicare patients, a 40-percent increase since 2001, when reimbursements for services to Medicare patients were cut by 5.4 percent. In addition, more than half the respondents to our survey blamed Medicare payment allowances for their decisions. More than one-third cited Medicare rules and regulations as a reason they were no longer taking new Medicare patients.
“Family physicians have not abandoned our nation’s seniors: more than 90 percent of family physicians continue to participate in the Medicare program. They are not dropping their current Medicare patients. But if Medicare reimbursements continue to trail behind increasing costs, many will be forced to turn away new Medicare patients to be able to continue treating those they already see.
“We urge the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to do all it can to make reimbursements more realistic to stabilize the Medicare system. Patients should not have to search far and wide for a physician who can see them, and seniors should be able to rely on Medicare, not doubt it.
“We continue to urge Congress to complete its work on the Medicare reform bill as soon as possible, and to include provisions in the final bill that will stabilize Medicare reimbursements until the flawed formula that has led to this situation is replaced with something that more accurately covers the health-care needs of our Medicare population.”
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Note to journalists: The American Academy of Family Physicians conducts a survey of a sample of membership annually. The survey was conducted in May and June, 2003, and was sent to 4,400 family physicians randomly selected in each of the nine Census divisions. There were 1,541 responses. Of those, 91.6 percent said they are participating physicians under Medicare, and 23.9 percent said they are not accepting new Medicare Fee-for-Service patients. In 2001, 17 percent reported not accepting new Medicare patients. In the 2003 survey, when asked the reason for not accepting new Medicare patients, 56.2 percent marked “Medicare payment allowances,” 35.8 percent marked “Medicare rules & regulations,” 23.2 percent marked “Not accepting any new patients, regardless of insurance,” and 21.5 percent marked “Other.” Some respondents marked more than one choice.
Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents more than 94,300 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical specialty society devoted solely to primary care. Please visit www.aafp.org for more information about AAFP.
Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 110,600 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.
Approximately one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is 240 million office visits each year — nearly 87 million more than the next largest medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.
To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.FamilyDoctor.org.