On March 23, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law. This landmark legislation is a monumental moment in healthcare. However, it does nothing to end the proposed Medicare cuts and the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, which determines Medicare reimbursement.
Recently, wait times have become the elephant in the room that few critics care to address in United States. Most of these wait-time problems also derive from funding cuts made by Medicare earlier this year. If the current cuts prevail, physicians will be forced to take various measures. Some practices will limit appointments or cease taking new Medicare patients; some practices may merge in an attempt to survive; and physicians close to retirement may well retire.
According to the American College of Cardiology there is a national shortage of cardiologists that is getting worse every year. It takes 7 to 9 years longer for this specialty to train after getting out of regular medical school. Besides this, they work an average of 70 to 80 hours a week.
Also according to printed material supplied by the American College of Cardiology, in Florida, there are about 950 full-time practicing cardiologists with 43 percent of them over 58 years old, while chest pain is the number one cause of ER visits and cardiovascular care accounts for about 43.6 percent of health care costs.
The CEO of American College of Cardiology Jack Lewin, MD stated: “Over the past decade, cardiology is the only area of medicine, that demonstrated a 27 percent reduction in mortality and morbidity across the U.S. This accomplishment is now being punished with an average of 27 percent in cuts to the practice of cardiology.” The result will be disastrous for those on Medicare. Patients will have fewer physicians to choose from and more wait time to be diagnosed.
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