AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Texas Medical Association is raising the alarm, stating that two-thirds of Texas physicians will not be able to provide care for new Medicare patients beginning next year.
Congress is planning to slash Medicare funding by 10% on January 1, which could greatly hurt physicians’ abilities to offer services to Medicare patients.
According to a survey conducted by the TMA, 62% of Texas physicians say they could be forced to stop seeing new Medicare patients, and 42% say they might stop seeing existing patients if congress follows through with the cut.
Since Medicare serves those 65 years old and older, and those with disabilities, the spending cut will have devastating effects on Texas’ already most vulnerable population.
“We’re talking about a sizable and ever-growing portion of the aging U.S. population in Medicare — folks who are most susceptible to chronic illnesses and infectious diseases like COVID-19 — who could end up without access to a doctor,” said TMA President Dr. Linda Villarreal.
While doctors don’t want to stop serving their Medicare patients, the cut could give them no choice. Additionally, Physicians’ Medicare payments have not been raised in 20 years, which Villarreal said only adds salt to the wound.
“We are already exhausted from a year and a half of a pandemic and now to hear of a cut like this would place massive strains on my small practice,” said Dr. Stephen Yang. “I fear that actions like these will eventually cause more and more solo/small practice doctors to hang it up. This type of action gives me dread.”
Now, TMA is calling on congress to cancel the spending cut or risk putting the lives of many elderly Texans in jeopardy.
TMA emphasized that if these patients are not able to access their physicians for wellness checkups, they could end up in emergency rooms instead, which would add more stress to the already overwhelmed healthcare system.