Solutions for reimbursement rate cuts and rising costs among physician practices

A survey of members of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) reveals that practice managers are most concerned with three main challenges: rising operating costs, managing finances with the uncertainty and Medicare reimbursement rates.

“It is not surprising that ‘maintaining finances with the uncertainty of Medicare reimbursement rates’ jumped to the No. 2 spot this year due to the continued congressional irresponsibility in not permanently addressing the flawed sustainable growth rate formula,” said William F. Jessee, MD, president and CEO of MGMA in a recent interview. Medicare reimbursement rate uncertainty ranked No. 1 within the survey.

“Practices are clearly balancing the very serious issue of keeping their practices afloat amid unprecedented financial uncertainty with the more delicate practice management issues such as managing group dynamics and overseeing their organizations’ direction,” Jessee said. It was determined that when compared with hospitals and health systems, independent medical practices respondents were more likely to find the following issues challenging: maintaining physician compensation levels and issues related to cuts and denials.

Within all of the chaos and uncertainty, a bright spot continues to be assistance from organizations such as, Simplified Imaging & Diagnostic Solutions (SIS), which specializes in reducing costs for practices offering in office nuclear stress testing specifically. Avi E. Soffer, CEO of SIS, has been outspoken on the company’s focus on countering the numerous reductions and obstacles physicians have been encountering. “The result of this ongoing badgering of Cardiologists is not only creating a negative economic impact but could eventually lead to an increase in undetected or untreated heart disease.” said Soffer in a recent statement. “Our company has had to very quickly respond the changes which essentially repositioned our company from being a nice to have, additional revenue option, to an “absolute must have in order to stay afloat,” – for practices nationwide. We continue to be inundated with calls for assistance from physicians expressing distress and disgust at the excessive reduction levels. Although in business for fifteen years, since mid 2009 we had to employ double the personnel to accommodate the influx of those in urgent need of cutting costs. As much as we welcome the opportunity of assisting physician practices and serving new clientele, we are completely opposed to what has been occurring to doctors are determined to counter the negative effects of these changes to our clients,” asserts Soffer.

The survey participants indicated that among the overall effects on their practices are: billing collections and/or denial management processes, decreased revenue, denials and preauthorization issues, and operating budget cuts. Also among the effects, “staff salary freeze” accounted for the biggest jump in rank in concerns practice managers and offices are currently facing.