This isn't your fault, but on that day Medicare will be cutting doctor reimbursements by 21%. Superimposed on the 15%-20% cuts already made at the start of the year, this will bring the reimbursement rate for your care to where it's LESS than my overhead for the time needed to see you. So I won't be taking any new Medicare patients.
You may be wondering how this happened, but don't go blaming this administration, or even the previous one, or congress, or the guys who write medical coding books, or the cycles of the moon, or whatever. Annual cuts have been programmed into Medicare for a long time (Medicare uses a formula that gradually reduces doctor reimbursements over time, ignoring the obvious fact that overhead costs will increase due to inflation) and the government (both parties) kept finding ways to do creative financing to work around them. After all, it's easier to put a band-aid on it then to actually fix the underlying problem. The problem with creative financing is that it's a house of cards, and sooner or later it falls apart.
And right now BOTH sides aren't doing a fucking thing to try and prevent these cuts from happening. Oh, sure, they pay some lip service and form committees, but lets face it: It's so much easier to argue over REAL issues, like gay marriage, school prayer, who's fornicating with who, if a guy on the other side is wearing unpatriotic cuff links, and whose fault everything is, than to actually try and solve minor problems like trying to keep the health care system afloat in the long run.
This isn't about the government. It's about your insurance. If any insurance company cuts its payment rates below what my overhead costs, I drop that insurance. Medicare is just another insurance, regardless of who's running it. I know this may surprise you, but I have to pay office rent, and staff salaries, and my own mortgage, and all kinds of other things. If I'm not making money, then I can't stay in business to help you. I didn't get into this job to get rich, but I do have to support my family.
So when you can't get in to see a doctor next month, I'm sure you'll find yourself saying "Well, I can't find anyone to treat my Parkinson's disease, but it doesn't matter because I know it was SO much more important that my legislators spent their valuable time arguing for/against gay marriage than trying to maintain jobs and health care."
I'm sure some of you will be angry at me, but look at it this way: If you ran Local Grocery, and had to pay $3 per tomato from a farmer, and the best price you could sell them at was $1, you'd either stop selling tomatoes or find another farmer.
Some of you may elect to pay cash to stay with me, and I'll be flattered.
Some of you will be pissed off (after all, it's just totally unreasonable of me to want to support my family), but I'm sure you'll find another neurologist. Some sucker who thinks he can make a fortune by collecting Medicare patients: all he has to do is make it up in volume. So he'll see 4 new patients in an hour OR 12 follow-ups in an hour. And you'll wait 3 hours in his lobby reading a 1987 issue of People magazine, and when you do get in to see him he'll give you exactly 5 minutes of his time to listen to your story, examine you, and decide what he's going to do. And don't expect him to have time to answer your questions.
You get what you pay for.
Ibee Grumpy, M.D.