Tough to find Medicare docs

Monday, September 30, 2002

NEW YORK - Medicare beneficiaries in eight states are reporting difficulty finding physicians who will care for them since Medicare payments to physicians were cut by more than 5%, according to a recent report from the Medicare Rights Center.

In three of those eight states, New Mexico, Tennessee and New Hampshire, beneficiaries report physicians admit they're declining to take them as patients due to the January pay cut.

"This is not a screaming headline that doctors are shutting themselves down to Medicare patients," said Robert Hayes, president of the Medical Rights Center, based here. "They're shutting themselves down to new Medicare patients. Is it a problem? Seemingly so. What's the solution? That's unclear."

The Medical Rights Center released the report after surveying directors of state Medicare counseling programs and advocacy organizations in some 30 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Hayes said the center initiated the survey soon after the cut was made in a pro-active attempt to gauge its impact. HME