We are excited to announce that Dr. Richard Kube II has once again been featured in an article where he shares his expert insights on critical medical matters. In this week’s article, Dr. Kube and other leading surgeons, engage in a discussion about their concerns regarding CMS pay cuts and the possibility of discontinuing Medicare patient care. To learn the wisdom shared by these accomplished surgeons, including Dr. Kube’s invaluable contributions, continue reading.
Declining CMS pay has been a point of pain for many spine surgeons. Five spine surgeons share their concerns and if the decreasing pay rates would ever affect the patients they treat.
Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care. Becker’s invites all spine surgeon and specialist responses.
Editor’s note: Responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.
Question: With CMS pay cuts continuing, would dropping Medicare patients ever be a consideration? If so, what would be your last straw?
Richard Kube II, MD. Prairie Spine & Pain Institute (Peoria, Ill.): We continue to see Medicare patients in our office and to provide physical therapy and interventional pain procedures. If a Medicare patient requires surgical intervention, we refer those patients. Doing those cases is a cash loss for our practice. With the cost of overhead, whether payroll or other fixed costs, taking up an ever-larger part of margin, it simply is not possible to provide care at a loss and remain solvent.
Other physicians are also concerned about CMS pay cuts affecting their ability to provide quality care to Medicare patients. While these doctors have different perspectives and strategies, many common themes emerged in this interview. One common theme was commitment to patient care, and serving their community through their work. Another, was the hope for legislative change, such as tying Medicare rates to the Medicare Economic Index, which will alleviate the challenges doctors face in providing care to Medicare patients. Lastly, many doctors are concerned about the financial constraints of their own practices. Some doctors acknowledge that providing surgical interventions for Medicare patients can result in a financial loss for their practices. They emphasize the importance of maintaining financial solvency so they can continue providing care.