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'Depersonalization' of medicine likely to continue amid CMS physician pay cuts, physician says

CMS' plan to cut physician pay by 4.42 percent in its Medicare physician fee schedule proposal is leaving many physicians worried about healthcare becoming more impersonal. 

Shamsideen Musa, MD, pain management physician in Anchorage, Alaska, joined Becker's in July to discuss how declining physician pay will change the healthcare industry. 

Question: How will declining physician pay alter the healthcare industry?

Dr. Shamsideen Musa: If physician payments continue to decline, we will continue to see the consolidation and corporatization of medical practices. As a result, patients will likely continue to experience the depersonalization and corporate feel of medical treatment offered by large groups. Physicians will increasingly seek employment at hospitals and private equity-backed corporations for stable income while the number of solo practitioners declines.

Q: If CMS follows through with its proposed 4.42 percent physician pay cut, how will physicians and patients be affected?

SM: If the 4.42 percent physician pay cut moves forward, it will further decrease patient access to specialty care. Initially, patients with Medicare as their primary insurance will have difficulty finding specialists with available appointments for new patients. This will then progress to all patients, as commercial insurers change their reimbursement policy to fall in line with CMS rates. Ultimately, this will continue to drive physicians away from solo practice toward large group practices that leverage economies of scale and care team models using physician assistants and nurse practitioners to handle the higher volume of patients necessary to be profitable. 

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