News 12 at 11/ Monday, June 23, 2014
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) --More doctors are learning they simply can't afford the Affordable Care Act, and it's leaving some medicare patients in a tough spot.
Last month North Augusta doctor Jeffrey Broder had to close his practice when he couldn't make ends meet. Now almost 800 of his medicare patients are searching for new doctors only to hear the word "no."
It's a search that's turning up very few results.
All you have to do is call the doctor and they say, 'Are you on Medicare? Yes. We don't take Medicare patients,'" Mary Rains reenacted.
A second door closed in her face after Dr. Jeffrey Broder was forced to close his practice last month.
"It's very difficult," Dr. Broder admits as he wipes tears from his eyes. "Lots of patients, lots of people that rely on me people that phenomenal relationships with."
One of those relationships was with Mary Rains, a patient turned friend who's been coming here since the beginning.
"I helped him pick out his clothes, the first clothes he bought to go into practice," she said.
Now Mary is one of Dr. Broder's 800 medicare patients who has to search for a new family physician. But, many doctors' offices aren't accepting new Medicare patients.
"I know I worried myself to death for the first two weeks when I found out he was going to close the office," Rains said.
It turned what's supposed to be the most restful time in her life to the most stressful.
"It's sad for old people. They say the golden years. That's a bunch of baloney," she said.
At least 277 doctors in Georgia have already opted out of Medicare. That number jumps to 282 in South Carolina. Many doctors say it's because hours of work with decreasing reimbursements and major red tape.
"Used to be, if somebody got hurt and we needed to do a test, we took care of it. The MRI I could get the next day, now it may take me three or four weeks to get approval to get it done," Dr. Broder explained.
It's leaving hundreds of patients wondering where to get the "care" part of their Medicare.
"We are not fixing the system. We have hurt the system. We're hurting patients," Dr. Broder emphasized.
"There's nothing you can do about it. Your hands are tied," Rains said.
Mary finally did connect with a new doctor, but it seems more doctors are considering opting out of Medicare. If they do, it doesn't mean they can't treat you, but it will mean you'll have to pay out of pocket for all your primary care needs.
Publix is actually offering a way to help with some of those out of pocket costs. The store is offering some free medications as long as you have a prescription from your doctor. We've got all the eligible medications posted on our website under the Find It button.