'So much for healthcare heroes': Physician weighs in on pay cuts

Many physicians are distressed by CMS' proposal to decrease the physician pay conversion factor by $1.53 to $33.08. 

Joseph Inglefield, MD, an ENT at Hickory (N.C.) Allergy & Asthma Clinic & Cough Center, joined Becker's to discuss how physicians and patients will be affected by the potential CMS pay cut.

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

Editor's note: This response was edited lightly for clarity and length. 

Dr. Joseph Inglefield: I think that banging pots and pans for healthcare workers like physicians and nurses is not enough. So much for healthcare heroes. Just remember that our labor, materials, business expenses, health insurance [up about 10 percent for renewal], malpractice insurance and rent have all gone up dramatically. Inflation is now at 9 percent. The proposal is to decrease pay, essentially an approximate 15 percent result in a decline. 

As we struggle with extensive paperwork for [Paycheck Protection Program] loans and forgiveness, having accounting firms charging 10 percent fees for those reimbursements, it is no wonder practices are selling out, and those close to retirement, who wish to continue working, are all reconsidering leaving medicine. The cost of living and practicing in the wake of inflation portends a negative future for those of us in solo private practice. Insurance companies continue to delay preauthorization and reimbursement with increasing denials and foot-dragging. Big Pharma makes it difficult to treat our patients with an unsustainable increase in the cost of the medications, which adds to the stress of using often inadequate treatments with dissatisfied patients or disgruntled staff. Physicians are expected to just absorb more than their share of this type of abuse. 

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