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of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.
A Voice for Private Physicians Since 1943
Omnia pro aegroto
Contact: Kathryn Serkes (202) 333-3855
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, FEB 4, 2000:
DOCTORS' STUDY: MEDICARE "FRAUD" CRACKDOWN HURTS
Senior citizens are having trouble finding doctors to treat them. The reasons? Stepped-up threats of
prosecution of doctors and government red-tape.
That is the troubling finding of a national survey of doctors conducted by the Association of American
Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) released today. The survey shows that Medicare regulations and recent
increased government crack down on so-called "fraudulent" billings touted as "patient protections" are
actually responsible for severely restricting patients' access to medical care.
The mail survey of 331 physicians conducted in July of last year supports four conclusions:
- Increased fear of prosecution or government retaliation has had a negative
impact patients' access to doctors and their ability to receive certain services such as
- Compliance with Medicare regulations takes a significant amount of doctor's time
away from patient care;
- Unrestricted private contracting under Medicare would greatly increase doctors'
willingness to treat Medicare patient;
- The government's increased role in medicine and increased fraud efforts is likely to
result in more difficulty for all patients to access care, not just those who are Medicare-
"This study is concrete documentation of the atmosphere of fear in which doctor practice today," said Jane
M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director of AAPS. "Money is not the issue -- it's the government in the
examining room. More doctors would rather treat uninsured patients, possibly for free, than risk being
prosecuted as a 'Medicare cheat.' "
For a detailed report and the survey questions, please click on
Medicare Survey Report. Some of the findings supporting the conclusions include:
FEAR OF PROSECUTION & IMPACT ON PATIENTS
COMPLIANCE TAKES TIME AWAY FROM PATIENTS:
- More than three-fourths (82%) report increased fear of prosecution or investigation in the
past 3 years;
- 71% report making changes in their practice to avoid threat of prosecution, including greatly
restricting services, i.e. more than one-third (34%) of all respondents restrict services to Medicare
patients, such as surgery.
- 20% report they do not accept new Medicare patients because of hassles and/or threats from
Medicare. (Only 16% cite fees)
- Almost one-fourth (23%) DO NOT accept new Medicare patients. Of those who do, 9% do so
only under special circumstances;
- More than one-third (34%) have difficulty finding referring physicians for their Medicare
IMPACT ON ALL PATIENTS:
- 22% of doctors' and staff total time is spendt on compliance with Medicare regulations
Medicare claims cost 26% more to process than private claims.
- 66% plan to retire from patient care at an earlier age than they would have considered 5
years ago. The leading reasons: Increased hassles with Medicare, and increased government
IMPACT OF PRIVATE CONTRACTING
- 64% would be more willing to serve Medicare patients if private contracting were
"The survey comments indicate a growing send of frustration and helplessness with the direction of the
practice of medicine," said Dr. Orient.