U-T San Diego: State Medicare reimbursements to rise

San Diego urologist Dr. Mo Bidair consults with patient Gert Brown. Bidair is pleased his Medicare reimbursements will increase under a new law, but wishes full reimbursement would happen more quickly. Peggy Peattie • U-T
San Diego urologist Dr. Mo Bidair consults with patient Gert Brown. Bidair is pleased his Medicare reimbursements will increase under a new law, but wishes full reimbursement would happen more quickly. Peggy Peattie • U-T0COMMENTS

An additional $14,300 per year in his pocket sounds downright delightful to Dr. Mo Bidair.

He is one of about 7,000 doctors in San Diego County affected by a bill that President Barack Obama signed this week. The legislation alters the way Medicare payments are adjusted for the cost of living in California.

Since such adjustments were created in 1989, San Diego has been lumped in with other “rural” counties such as Imperial and Yuba while regions considered to have higher costs of living, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have received their own special designations.

The result is that local physicians get 5 to 10 percent less in Medicare reimbursements than their counterparts in other metropolitan areas, said Tom Gehring, executive director of the San Diego County Medical Society. He said that gap adds up to about $30 million in underpayments each year.

In addition, many commercial insurance companies base their payments to doctors on what Medicare pays, meaning that the effect of the rural designation costs local physicians a combined total of about $100 million annually. That’s nearly $14,300 per doctor, on average.

Continue reading here: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/apr/05/state-medicare-reimbursements-set-to-increase/

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