To The Daily Sun,
This past week, namely, Thursday, a momentous vote took place in Washington, on many levels.
The House finally passed a bill that remedies the injustice done to physicians and to patients as a result of that injustice. The president has said he will sign it. The House vote was 392 for and 37 against. The bill, if also passed by the Senate, will protect physicians from further cuts in their reimbursements from the Medicare system that has caused many doctors and hospitals to consider limiting or cutting access to services to those covered under Medicare. It will begin to increase their reimbursements in very small increments. They will receive an annual 0.5 percent bump for the next four years. Then the payments will stay flat for another six years before they would see 0.25 percent payment increases. This instead of a 21 percent additional cut in reimbursement payments scheduled under current law.
Congress has seen fit to stop this type of cut 18 times under the current statue; it fixes a recognized flawed formula. It is about time to take away the annual, sometimes more than annual, enormous scheduled physician reimbursement reductions. It is also important to note that for New Hampshire, due to the intricacies of the Medicare fee schedule, N.H. doctors are reimbursed less than their Massachusetts counterparts, and it is even harder therefore for them to absorb cuts without affecting their practices and ultimately possible patient access.
In perspective, it takes four years of college and a BA degree, followed by four years of Medical School, and then three to seven years of medical residency at a hospital before you can apply for a license, and if you have a specialty, an additional one to three years. So, after getting out of high school, they have to wait approximately 10 years or more before they begin earning, and at the same time pay off a typical bill around $200,000 for that education.
The other good news out of this bill's passage in the House is that at last our elected officials have come together and found common ground and done the right thing for all, and have put aside their bipartisanship to protect the health care of everyone.
In addition, the hospitals and doctors are constantly working to improve the quality of care and at the same time find and develop techniques that will help lower the growth in health care costs. The legislation passed in the House seeks to enhance that capability. There is still much to be done to improve the quality of care and reduce the cost of care. Let the people who have dedicated their lives to this, do their job and keep the government from tying their hands and shortchanging them in programs that are essential.
This bill was supposed to go the Senate for a vote on Friday, but time ran out before they recessed for vacation. When they return, please ask your senators to pass this bill.