Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Not To Mince Words

But a government takeover of health care will make health care worse. A recent survey of cardiologists and cardiovascular ultrasound technicians found that if Medicare payments are cut to pay for the Health Care Bill, 87 percent may stop accepting Medicare patients, reduce staff or shut down their practices completely.

The survey showed that for the echocardiography service providers affected most directly by the PFS payment cuts, the actions currently being considered most often are:

  • 64% would delay the purchase of echo equipment;
  • 56% would lay off sonographers or other staff;
  • 53% would reduce staff salaries;
  • 47% might reduce staff benefits, such as 401K programs or healthcare;
  • 23% would refrain from accepting Medicare patients for any services;
  • 19% are considering closing a satellite office(s) or have already closed a satellite office(s); 60% of these are located in rural areas.

For those echocardiography service providers who will be indirectly affected by the payment cuts (those who receive payment through the Hospital Outpatient Payment System), the survey showed anticipated outcomes would include:

  • Increased workload (74%)
  • Longer wait times for patients (67%)
  • Lengthened turnaround time for reports (44%)
  • Increased overtime for staff or the need to hire additional cardiac sonographers (43%)

Echocardiography is but one of the countless components of our health care system that will be negatively impacted by the current health care legislation up for debate.

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