Medicare doctors say reimbursement cuts will cause them to see fewer patients

Mediare reimbursements hang in the balance

Wellington, FL - Ronda Rothschild and her husband depend in part on Medicare to pay for the routine and the serious.

"My husband had pneumonia and bronchitis," said Rothschild. "He was pretty sick, he was in the hospital for eight days," she said.

Dr. Richard Hays of Wellington has nearly a thousand Medicare patients, which make up a third of his business.

He gets reimbursed by Medicare for the treatments he provides them.

But unless Washington can cut a deal to avoid automatic spending cuts put in place by their last budget deal, Medicare payments to doctors will be cut by 27 percent.

"Just like any other small business, we really have no way to absorb that kind of a cut."

As a way of protecting patients from financial burden, Medicare's rules prohibit doctors from turning to patients to make up the cost for what Medicare doesn't pay.

If the nation goes over the cliff, Hays says treating the elderly who depend on Medicare will be all-but-impossible.

"Our practice and probably a lot of practices will have to find a way to not see any Medicare patients anymore," said Hays.

We spoke to Rep. Ted Deutch (D - Boca Raton) by phone, who says an overall deal seems no closer, but that Congress should hold a vote on no-brainers like Medicare reimbursements right away.

"I remain hopeful that the consequences, as significant as they are, will cause us to come together to at least address the things that have to get done before the end of the year."

With her health care hanging in the balance, Rothschild had harsh words for all members of Congress.

"They're trying to stick it to us. It's not right. We send them to do a good job and I don't think a lot of them are," said Rothschild.

Their next vote could save someone's life.

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