The threat of pay cuts for doctors treating Medicare patients still looms. A proposed 27.4% pay cut by CMS could significantly affect doctors? practice revenues, especially considering that nearly one in four patients that family physicians currently see are Medicare beneficiaries. While the implication for medical device manufacturers will not be as obvious as for the reimbursement prepayment audits, discussed yesterday, it could potentially hinder the adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) among physician practices due to lower incomes in general. This survey found that approximately 30% of respondents would delay the purchase of an EMR system if the payments went through.

The implication for the medical device industry would not, however, be as drastic as for Medicare patients and the physicians themselves; the same survey indicated that more than 50% of respondents would reduce the number of appointments for new Medicare patients, more than 30% would stop accepting new Medicare patients, and approximately 9% would cease treating Medicare patients altogether.

Based on U. S. Census Bureau figures, this could leave nearly 4 million people unable to access basic care and likely to turn up in the emergency room when their situation becomes dire ultimately possibly costing the health care system more money than the cuts would save. It remains unclear, however, whether these cuts will be passed because similar proposals have been on the table in some shape or form for years and have generally been deferred because of strong backlash.

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