Monday, March 24, 2014

City Workers Get Pay Raises While Doctors Settle For A Pay Freeze. What Is Wrong With This Picture?

I've been getting bombarded with emails from the AMA urging me to contact my Congressman to pass a bill to eliminate the SGR once and for all. This will finally get rid of the annual games Congress plays with physician incomes in which the SGR formula calls for draconian cuts in Medicare reimbursement only to be rescued by the legislature at the last minute.

Unfortunately, the fix to the doc fix may be worse than if nothing is done. At least when we had the doc fix, Congress usually slips in about a 1% raise in reimbursements each time. With the new bill, reimbursements will rise 0.5% every year for five years followed by a pay freeze for the next five. With medical inflation easily running at least 4-5x that number, it's easy to see how doctors' incomes will be drastically curtailed in ten years on an inflation adjusted basis.

So the AMA wants me to call my representatives in Washington to support a bill that will cut my income over the next decade? I didn't know Chicago already allowed medical marijuana to be used at the AMA's headquarters. Is it any wonder that only a quarter of the nation's physicians belong to the AMA? With friends like this, we might as well buddy up to the trial lawyers who have the real power in Washington.

What about my own society, the ASA? Well, true to their gutless selves, they are taking no stand on this issue. They are taking no action to prevent my income from being reduced by half over the next decade. Thanks for nothing. I guess they are too busy over there in Schaumburg erecting their new headquarters with my annual membership fee.

In the meantime my local city union workers are getting a six percent raise in their salaries this year. If the laws of supply and demand were truly in effect, it should be the doctors who are getting the raises as there is a constant harping about the severe shortage of physicians in this country. The city workers, who we all have seen barely lifting a finger to help anybody, should be the ones getting right sized. This again shows how powerless physicians are in creating their own destinies. We are at the mercy of representatives who pay far more attention to lawyers and city unions than the people who will be taking care of their mothers in the hospital.

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