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More Texas Doctors Dropping Medicare Patients

A new report states 300 Texas doctors have dropped Medicare patients in the last two years and experts are blaming declining reimbursement rates.

And now with insurance for everyone coming soon, many doctors say they’ll be doing more work for less money.

Dr. Andres Enriquez, the president of the El Paso County Medical Society, explains how this breaks down for patients.

“That’s probably the only reason why I take Medicare, because I love my viejitos,” Enriquez said.

But with Congress mulling a 21 percent cut to Medicare reimbursement rates, Enriquez doesn’t know how long he can afford to provide care for his elderly patients.

“We’re being forced to do something we really don’t want to do,” Enriquez said.

According to the Texas Medical Association, a new survey found that 42 percent of Texas doctors are no longer accepting new medicare patients.

“Those are the patients that really need us, you’re talking about a 70 year old with ten medications,” said Enriquez.

But some El Paso doctors are trying to avoid federal programs – such as Medicare and Medicaid – altogether.

“It’s kind of scary for my older patients,” said Enriquez.

He explained a lot of people don’t realize he’s not only a doctor, he’s also a small business owner with 25 employees.

He said his employees all need insurance and cost of living raises, in addition to an increased workload.

“I think it’s ludicrous that the government wants us to see 39 million more individuals for less amount of money,” said Enriquez.

Enriquez said another problem is insurance companies base their rates on what medicare pays.

“I can guarantee you that in a year to two years from now, they’re not going to pay me for certain services. Blue Cross is going to say, I’m going to pay you what Medicare paid.”

And those worries are already trickling down.

First-year medical student Ricardo Kosturakis is interning at Dr. Enriquez’s office and told Kosturakis told ABC-7 he and fellow students are concerned about their futures.

“It’s going to be more methodical, more like a process, and that’s what scares most of the students right now,” Kosturakis said.

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