Group practices around the country have already taken significant measures to cope with the financial uncertainty of the reimbursement environment and the failure of Medicare physician payments to keep pace with the cost of delivering care, according to research conducted by the Medical Group Management Association, of Englewood, Colo.

Practices are finding they must reduce beneficiary access further and make operational sacrifices in order to survive in the wake of Congress’s six-month adjustment to Medicare payments, the looming 10.6 percent cut scheduled for July 1 and an additional 5.4 percent cut to physician reimbursement scheduled for January 2009.

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of respondents said they had either begun limiting or not accepting new Medicare patients due to the temporary adjustment to Medicare physician payments and pending 10.6 reduction scheduled for July. With the looming 10.6 percent cut scheduled to take effect in just four months, almost half (46 percent) of the respondents said they would have to stop accepting or limit the number of Medicare beneficiaries their practices treat.

More than half are considering reducing administrative and clinical staff, while the majority said they would limit hiring for those positions. Additionally, more than two thirds of respondents indicated they would refrain from, or delay, investment in new equipment and information technology.