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Wednesday, September 13th 2006

Yeah, I'm Going To Be Seeing Geriatric Patients

Who in God’s name would go into primary care facing a growing elderly population and AARP positions like this:

Kirsten A. Sloan, a health policy analyst at AARP, the lobby for older Americans, said: “The standard premium for Part B is less than originally projected, and that’s good news. But the premium is artificially low. It assumes a continuation of current law, under which Medicare payments to doctors will be cut 5 percent next year. If Congress decides to prevent that cut, beneficiaries may have to make up the difference by paying higher premiums in 2008.”

The AARP calling for Congress to keep the cuts in physician reimbursement is part of a NYT article on rising Medicare premiums, including a new surcharge based on income (!) Here’s the Chronicle story on the new graduated surcharges.

[I]ndividuals earning more than $80,000, and couples earning more than $160,000, will pay anywhere from $12.50 to $73.60 more a month for their coverage.

Pauline Rosenau, a professor of public health at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, said that while income is a distinguishing factor with other government programs, this is a first for Medicare.

“This is the first time that Medicare has turned to different premiums for different income levels,” she said. “That does mark a departure from previous policies.”