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Doctors Facing 27% Medicare Pay Cut

Aired 12/21/11 on KPBS News.

Doctors are livid about Congress's failure to delay a 27 percent cut in Medicare payments.

— Add doctors to the list of people who are outraged about Congress's failure to pass a payroll tax cut extension: Doctors will see a deep cut in Medicare payments unless lawmakers come up with a fix.

A bill passed in the 1990s requires Medicare payment reductions. The payroll tax cut bill the Senate approved contained a two-month hold, but the House rejected it. That means doctors who treat Medicare patients will see their pay cut by 27 percent beginning in January.

Dr. Jim Hay, in Encinitas, is president of the California Medical Association.

"This will be disastrous for us, and it will be more disastrous for seniors," Dr. Hay warned. "They're already having a hard time finding physicians, and in certain specialties, it's particularly difficult. That's gonna get much worse."

Dr. Hay said if the pay cut isn't reversed, many physicians won't see new Medicare patients. He said some won't treat Medicare patients at all.

Nearly 5 million people in California receive Medicare benefits.

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