Medicare patient Ann Lorenz has relied on the advice and recommendations of her neurologist, Dr. Jeffrey English, since she was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 13 years ago. So the dramatic changes coming to Medicare via the Affordable Care Act—and its potential to limit seniors’ access to care as doctors foresee dropping Medicare patients—already worry Lorenz.
“One of the first things you ask a new doctor is if they accept Medicare,” Lorenz, who lives in Atlanta, says in a new Impact of Obamacare video. “And we have always seemed to have doctors that accepted it, which has worked out very nicely because I have had to go over the last few years…to many doctors…because of age and the various things that happen to you when you get older.”
But that reliable acceptance of Medicare patients is in danger. In fact, Dr. English—who dropped his roster of Medicaid patients just six years ago—fears he’ll have to take the same action with his Medicare patients if reimbursement rates are too low.
“The reimbursement was such that it was actually costing us more to see the [Medicaid] patients than if…we just saw them for free if we saw them in the hospital,” English says in the new Heritage video.
It’s not just reimbursement rates that will impact seniors’ access to care. English says the heavy regulations and required protocols in Obamacare will impact his practice of medicine. “My reputation now is built on taking good care of patients. In the future, my reputation is going to be whether I stick to protocols.”
Then there are Obamacare’s sharp cuts in Medicare Advantage, which nearly one-quarter of U.S. seniors rely on for their health benefits. Obamacare will result in the average senior facing a drop of $3,700 in services in Medicare Advantage by 2017.
Finally, Obamacare is an innovation killer, piling on new taxes on drug companies ($20 billion) and medical device makers ($27 billion) that will make health care services more costly. “I’m all for reform that puts the patient in charge, gives patient access to all the doctors and reduces cost,” English notes. But “we got the opposite in Obamacare.”