Urologists: Entitlement cuts will curtail access to care

September 1, 2011

During the debate about increasing the debt ceiling, the targeting of entitlements in cuts came as little surprise to urologists.

When the nation's capital screeched to a halt this summer trying to reach agreement on increasing the debt ceiling, both Republicans and Democrats acknowledged that the federal government must cut spending. Although they couldn't agree on what to cut, or how much, discussions quickly focused on entitlements, particularly Medicare and Medicaid.

Urology Times talked to urologists around the country about the possibility of cuts to federal health care programs to help reduce the deficit. We asked about the effect cuts would have on their practices and proposals for reducing the cost of entitlements. The primary concern of all the urologists interviewed is that physician reimbursement will be cut, new Medicare patients will be dropped from practices, and access to care will be significantly curtailed.

"I fully ex-pect there will be decreased reimbursements, in some form or fashion, for Medicare and Medicaid. My concern is that a disproportionate share of the burden will be placed on physicians, creating problems for our patients because more physicians will stop accepting Medicare."

"If you accept the fact that the country cannot sustain the trajectory of health care expenditures as a percentage of GDP and that something must be done, a lot of what must be done is on the beneficiary side," Dr. Kirsh said.

"The compromise bill sets up a committee with the ability to cut entitlements on both the provider and beneficiary side. However, once they put the package together, if it doesn't pass in Congress, the bill provides for automatic cuts, which cannot affect beneficiaries.

"So if the committee, or Congress, can't agree on raising the Medicare age or adding means testing on the beneficiary side, the current deficit law says there will be automatic cuts that can only affect providers."