California Medical Assn. Supports Blue Shield's Move to Maintain Reimbursement Rates
Doctors Facing Cuts in Medicare Plan
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The Californian Medical Assn. voiced support Wednesday for Blue Shield's decision to maintain current reimbursement rates for physicians in the face of Medicare's plan to impose a 5.4% fee cut for 2002. Calling Blue Shield "a good partner," CMA officials said the nonprofit health plan had taken an important step by not putting more fiscal pressure on physicians who already face rising costs and unrealistic reimbursements. "You can't provide health care without physicians, and the economics of health care in California is forcing medical groups to close their doors and physicians to leave practice," said Dr. Frank E. Staggers, Sr., president of the CMA. "This step is a significant one by a major health plan. It recognizes that physicians are already stretched," said Dr. Staggers, an Oakland urologist. No health plan other than Blue Shield has announced its rate structure for 2002. However, many typically link their rates to the Medicare rate structure or use it as a benchmark, and that could cause a ripple effect, said CMA officials. At the same time, CMA officials said maintaining reimbursement at current levels is not a long-term solution. Expenses continue to rise for medical practices. The Medical Group Management Assn. reported expenses increased 6.2% for the average multi-specialty physician group in 2000. Dr. Staggers said CMA is carefully watching the for-profit health plans to see if these insurance companies cut rates for physicians, and then send the money on to their shareholders and executives. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (formerly HCFA) last month announced a 5.4% cut in outpatient reimbursements for physicians, which will take effect Jan. 1. Legislation has been introduced to limit the cut to 0.9%. The Medicare payment rates are driven by a statutory formula that uses non-medical based cost indicators, such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to update payment rates. These indicators are rising more slowly than the indices that track the cost of delivering medical care. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services has made errors in the formula used to compute the rates. Because the formula is cumulative, errors made in the first two years that were never corrected are compounded with each year's update. The California Medical Association represents 35,000 physicians in all specialties and modes of practice. It is one of the nation's largest state medical associations. MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X53513429
SOURCE California Medical Association
Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.
Learn about PR Newswire services
Request more information about PR Newswire products and services or call us at (888) 776-0942.