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Just two days before Christmas, the GOP relented and approved the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, granting more time to come up with longer fix – and saving doctors from a 27% cut in Medicare reimbursement. The conference committee is expected to reconvene the week of the 16th to hammer out a long-term “doc fix”.
And it seems to come not a moment too soon. Small and independent private practices across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Higher costs of business, more regulations and deep reimbursement cuts have pushed physicians to take out loans or tap into personal funds to make payroll. A Philadelphia cardiologist is facing 35%-40% Medicare reimbursement cuts for cardiovascular tests. A top oncologist has found himself millions of dollars in the hole due to changes in drug reimbursement regulations. Others have had to take out SBA loans to keep their doors open.
The threat of a reduction in Medicare reimbursements comes up nearly annually, making doctors sweat all the more until Band-Aid legislation is passed. And with half of the country’s physicians operating small private practices, bankruptcy is becoming more and more plausible.
Read more about these physicians and how they’re handling financial hardships at CNNMoney.