Open up and say 'Aha'

Share this article:

OK, raise your hand if you were surprised to learn that physicians averted a major Medicare pay cut that was supposed to take place this week. Didn't think so. I wasn't either.

This month-long delay (reported on earlier this week by McKnight's) is sure to be a precursor to yet another delay. In fact, top lawmakers and the White House have already publicly stated they want another 12-month delay after this one. If you've been paying attention at all in recent years, you already know that docs don't take funding cuts, yet alone one of a 23% magnitude.

Lawmakers must have had some "silly gas" pumped into the Capitol when they voted that one through. In hindsight, it would be laughable had the measure's passage happened in earnest. But of course, it didn't. Someone needed to score political points or balance a spreadsheet, so the unrealistic fee cut was tossed to critics like fresh meat to hyenas.

Now, there's no appetite to make it stick. Through at least a handful of “doc pay fix” extensions, it's become obvious there is no real resolve to pull in the reins. Lots of big talk about doing it, sure. But never anything close to clipping physicians' wings, for better or worse.

Whenever they have felt the slightest bit threatened—and it's not often—they don white lab coats on the steps of some important building and threaten to take their black bags and go home. As many as two-thirds say they would consider not accepting new Medicare patients if funding were cut.

The rub for long-term care providers is a) you need physicians around, of course, and b) those doctors are being paid from the same finite trough that you dine from. The more the docs get, the less there is for everyone else. Take this one-month delay of the planned funding cuts for example. Changes in Medicare reimbursements for outpatient therapy services will pay for it. Now if that doesn't hit close to home, I don't know what does.

The way the political donations game has been going lately, it looks like the docs don't have to worry about not getting their belly full. They're the sixth biggest “corporate sponsor” of members of Congress nationwide.

Long-term care providers (the 62nd biggest donor) might know how to give until it hurts. But when it comes to politicians, physicians know how to give until it feels better.

Share this article:
close

Next Article in Daily Editors' Notes

Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editor's Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor on Monday and Friday; Staff Writer Tim Mullaney on Tuesday, Editor James M. Berklan on Wednesday and Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman on Thursday.

    ALL MCKNIGHT'S BLOGS

    More in Daily Editors' Notes

    Guess who's asking whether to discontinue skilled care?

    Guess who's asking whether to discontinue skilled care?

    The audience member had a question that in previous years would have been found at the corner of Blasphemy and Crazytalk. She wanted to know whether it would be advisable ...

    Managing time for staff to reflect after a resident's death

    Managing time for staff to reflect after a ...

    Singing "Amazing Grace" or playing a ukelele version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" may not immediately spring to mind as ways to help staff members grieve after a resident has ...

    Glen Campbell Alzheimer's documentary brings out the stars — caregivers and celebrities ...

    As readers of this blog may recall, my expectations for the special screening of the new documentary about music superstar Glen Campbell's journey with Alzheimer's disease were high. Sunday night's star-studded showing and concert were to be unlike anything long-term care professionals had experienced before. ...