Knee Replacement Surgeons Will be Burning the Candle at Both Ends This Year.
Every year the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) make determinations regarding their Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for the upcoming year.
In their infinite wisdom, they have decided to again lower physician reimbursement in 2 out of 4 high volume lower extremity procedures which include total hip replacements (5%) and total knee replacements (11%), Surgical repair of a broken hip will remain unchanged. Reimbursement for a partial knee will increase by 6.7%. These fee changes have all taken effect January 1st, 2014
Extensive lobbying by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Association of Hip and knee Surgeons (AAHKS) prevented an even steeper cut from being implemented affecting all knee replacement surgeons.
Dr Tarlow, a knee replacement surgeon practicing in Scottsdale Arizona, states:
The trend to lower physician reimbursement started more than 20 years ago continues. These fee changes are typically adopted by all insurers. This ruling effectively lowers the fee surgeons will receive for performing the above procedures (exception is partial knee replacement which should see a fee increase). As a small business owner these fee decreases continue to place downward pressure on my ability to serve our patients – resources to pay staff, rent, and malpractice insurance continue to dwindle. Increasing patient volumes are the only strategy I am aware of to counteract this move. Less time with each patient likely diminishes the patient experience and the patient satisfaction and potentially causes lower quality of care. The human experiment continues.
For the doctor that specializes in knee replacement surgery, an 11% reduction in income is a huge problem. We all should be concerned about these trends. If they continue it will surely discourage the best and the brightest in the next generation and accelerate the creep of lower quality care into the system.
So if you visit a knee replacement surgeon this year and you are sitting in a very busy waiting room feeling put out, remember that he probably isn’t happy with it either. And if you get the chance thank him for his fine work despite being increasingly devalued by government idiots.