Starting Monday, the country's physicians will be faced with a 21.2% cut in Medicare payments, a reduction that the local health care professionals say could end up driving doctors out of the relatively "retirement-heavy" area of Southwest Florida, if nothing is done to block these.
Every year, rates are automatically set by a Federal formula, around since the 1990s that cannot be altered unless the Congress steps in and takes control.
Because the scheduled payouts have generally been lower, lawmakers have continually blocked them. But this has failed to happen as of Friday, a development which has prompted some in the medical community to envision the worst scenario.
"If that happens, it would make our business decision simple. We would go out of business", said Dr. Douglas G. Henricks, a Fort Myers internist, while tagging the 21.2% cut as a "devastating" move.
President of Lee Memorial Health System, Jim Nathan called the formula to calculate yearly payouts as one of the various "ticking time bombs" in the country's health care system.