Rural providers, you already have enough on your plate tending to an older, sicker, poorer patient mix on a red-lined budget during a time of monumental transition for the healthcare sector.
It's no fun piling on.
Nonetheless, make sure that calling Congress is on the top of your list.
Regardless of your political affiliations or how you feel about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, if you're a physician leader or an executive at your hospital, or if you're simply an average citizen who cares about maintaining quality healthcare in your community, you need to stay abreast of developments on Capitol Hill, and your elected representatives need to hear from you.
If budget balancing gimmicks being considered by Congress take effect in the coming year they could potentially mean the loss of billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for rural providers. It won't matter whether you're a blood red Republican or a blue dog Democrat when you're trying to balance the books on diminishing revenues.
One of the biggest potential icebergs out there is the permanent repeal of the widely reviled Sustainable Growth Rate funding formula for physicians' Medicare reimbursements. Virtually no one will weep over SGR's demise if Congress successfully installs a permanent 'doc fix' before the latest stopgap expires on March 31.