Medicare physician pay cut contributes to growing trend of patient refusals

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Many physicians have begun to limit the number of new Medicare patients they accept following Friday's imposition of a 21% reimbursement cut, but these new patient refusals are just the latest in a growing trend.

A slew of recent surveys conducted by various medical groups have revealed that the number of physicians who don't participate in Medicare has been growing steadily over the last few years, USA Today reported. Up to 13% of members of the American Academy of Family Physicians don't accept Medicare, compared with 6% in 2004. The America Medical Association, meanwhile, reported that 17% of its members restrict the number of Medicare patients they will see. That number climbs to 31% among primary care physicians, USA Today reported.

While the payment cut was set to take effect June 1, a series of holds kept the cuts from taking place. The last hold expired on Friday.

In related news, physician groups and Democrats in the House of Representatives have strongly criticized the Medicare physician pay fix that the Senate passed on Friday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in a statement released Friday night referred to the Senate bill as “inadequate,” and said there was no reason to pass the bill unless the Senate also passes jobs legislation.