An automatic cut in Medicare reimbursement rates to doctors, health care plans and prescription drug plans will reduce the spending by 2%.
Overall the cuts will amount to $11 billion, and will strain some practices that are already operating under spiraling costs and sluggish revenue.
Small practices, and those with a high percentage of lower income patients, , will find themselves facing the difficult question or staying afloat, or not accepting as many patients with government coverage.
Some patients already find it difficult to locate doctors who will accept their Medicare plans, and those in rural areas with few options are struggling to find care.
A 2% cut may not seem large, but Medicare payments to doctors have been lagging, said Dr. Jeremy Larazus, president of the American Medical Association.
"Over the last 12 years, Medicare payments to physicians have increased by only 4%, while the cost of providing care has jumped 20%," said Lazarus.
Doctors worry that private insurers will also impose the 2% cut, because private insurers tend to copy moves that Medicare makes.
Many small practices run on extremely thin margins, and this could spell more trouble for the 47 million Americans who currently rely on Medicare coverage. Any cut in reimbursement rates could mean the practice is forced to make the choice to not take any new Medicare patients in the future.
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