A recent change to an area of healthcare law will directly and significantly affect how doctors will be paid for providing services under Medicare. Currently, doctors provide a service and receive a fee directly from Medicare. With the recent passage of a new law, Medicare will only reimburse doctors if their treatment of a patient is "successful." This law is called the Medicare Access and CHIP Re-authorization Act (MACRA). The law will lead to many potentially significant and negative consequences, namely doctors avoiding treatment of patients that will not likely have a favorable treatment outcome because this would mean a lower or no payment from Medicare. If they will only receive adequate payment for successful treatments, they will also likely be more inclined to give out numerus prescription medication to fix a problem that may be solved by other means (e.g. proper diet, exercise). But "alternative" methods for treating problems may not be properly followed by patients and then lead again to the physician not receiving payment for their services. Physicians may also opt out of the Medicare program altogether, further worsening the lack of doctors that provide services to low-income people. A study indicates that 40% of physicians will leave the system due to this law. Once the program starts to take effect and people realize the serious consequences, this may become a key issue at the forefront of the healthcare debate.
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