People tend to tune out when the news concerns government and bureaucracies and words such as reimbursement. Who wants to be bored by that stuff?
But here’s the deal: If the bureaucrats who manage the federal Medicare program don’t pay Sonoma County physicians a fair price for their services, you may not be able to find a doctor when you need one. That may not be sexy, but it’s important.
As of now, local physicians are paid 13 percent less than physicians in neighboring Napa and Marin counties. This issue is vital not only for seniors served by Medicare but for people of every age – for two reasons: (1) Other insurers peg reimbursement rates to Medicare, and (2) If physicians don’t want to practice medicine here, everyone suffers.
In effect, a young doctor relocating to Sonoma County must agree to take a cut in his or her standard of living – obligated to pay more for housing (and everything else), while being paid less than other physicians.
So why should we be surprised that they don’t want to move here?
On Wednesday, we’ll have more to say about the latest legal action in which Sonoma and four other counties press the federal government to play fair.