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Medicare Cuts Payments To Doctors By 21 Percent

— The rate Medicare pays doctors will be cut by 21 percent starting Tuesday. Physicians in San Diego County warn seniors may have trouble getting care if Congress doesn't rescind the cut.

The Medicare pay reduction is mandated by a bill passed in 1997.

Congress has delayed the pay cut three times this year. The House passed a bill that would have blocked it once again, but the Senate failed to act in time.

Dr. Ted Mazer is an ear, nose, and throat specialist in San Diego. He says he can't absorb a 21 percent pay cut.

"That would basically take reimbursement well below the level of the actual cost of services," Mazer complains. "For me, in the short term, it could put me under water. If it doesn't get fixed in the long term, it basically tells me to drop contracts and stop seeing Medicare."

Mazer says Congress needs to fix the Medicare payment system once and for all. Otherwise, he says many doctors just won't treat Medicare patients.

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