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Growing Physician Access Problems Complicate Medicare Payment Debate

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Publication Date: September 2002

Publisher(s): Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Sally Trude; Paul B. Ginsburg

Series: Issue Brief No. 55

Topic: Health (Quality of health care)

Type: Brief

Abstract:

Projected cuts in Medicare physician payments raise serious concerns that Medicare beneficiaries will lose access to needed physician services. A study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) shows growing physician access problems among Medicare and privately insured patients. Patients have the most difficulties obtaining care from specialists and in certain communities. Proposals to increase Medicare fees across the board may prevent deterioration of access for Medicare beneficiaries but are unlikely to address system-wide access problems that vary by specialty and market.