Late Federal Payments Forcing New York Doctors Into Debt

Published January 1, 2009

Late Medicare reimbursements from the federal government have created financial problems for New York doctors, causing some practices to take out loans of up to $3 million, according to physician advocacy groups.

The problem began in September 2008 and may be linked to a change in the firm contracted by WellPoint, Inc.’s National Government Services branch to handle Medicare claims processing, according to the New York Medical Society.

“There are difficulties any time there is a transition between private providers,” said Jamie Story, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “But ultimately, given the right incentives, a private provider can provide more efficient, streamlined services than any government. And if they don’t, a new provider should be selected.”

“Public programs are notoriously bad business partners,” said Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute.

“The lower payments from these programs make it difficult for doctors to even cover their costs,” Turner continued. “The bigger the role that government plays in our health sector, the more we are going to find access and quality compromised.”

Krystle Russin ([email protected]) writes from Texas.