First Person: Medicare in Fiscal Cliff Deal Saves Dad from Cancer-Care Changes

Saving Current Medicare Payment Rates to Doctors Keeps My Dad with His Current Physicians

Yahoo Contributor Network

Yahoo News asked readers to react to Washington's fiscal-cliff deal, forged late Tuesday night? Are they happy? Will they benefit? Here's how the agreement plays out for one American.

COMMENTARY | Most of Dad's doctors were going to drop him and their other Medicare patients if not for the fiscal cliff deal. Going over the fiscal cliff meant a steep drop of 27 percent in the payment rate to physicians. Beyond the middle-class tax cuts, my family feels blessed and relieved that my 79-year-old dad won't need to change cancer doctors now. I'm in my late 40s and work as an unpaid caregiver for my parents, so the fiscal cliff bill doesn't have much direct impact on me just yet. But, here's what the fiscal cliff deal did for my folks, who live in Merritt Island, Fla.

Keep his current doctors

Most of my folks' doctors already have big office signs stating they are not accepting any new Medicare patients. While I'm feeling lucky their doctors treat them at all, the fiscal cliff deal was an extra big deal for their health care. With multiple conditions like renal kidney failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, lung cancer, and more, finding the right specialists took years.

Find a doctor for a second opinion when needed

Try getting a second opinion from a doctor who's not accepting new Medicare patients, much less dropping them altogether. When Dad had problems with his dialysis port clogging, the referral surgeon ordered chest x-rays. The surgeon saw the tumor on Dad's lung in the X-ray. Guess what he recommended? Yep -- immediate surgery to remove the growth and possibly the whole lung. They'd do a biopsy later. Overwhelmed, Dad resigned himself to another hospitalization. It was tough to find another doctor accepting Medicare patients for a second opinion. But we did and with much better results. I can't fathom trying something like that if the fiscal cliff deal had not passed.

Avoided too many doctor changes during cancer treatment

Since Dad has many serious ailments, his cancer specialist coordinates his care with five other doctors. We just can't imagine finding so many new doctors for Dad during such a critical time.

View Comments (3)