A Kentucky physician is closing his practice at year's end rather than pay tens of thousands of dollars to comply with the provisions in Obamacare.
Dr. Stephen Kiteck has practiced for many years in Somerset, Ky. He recently attracted attention for his decision to end his practice after taking out an advertisement in the local newspaper.
"Due to the policies of Obamacare, Stephen Kiteck, MD will be closing his medical practice on December 31, 2013," stated the ad, which encourages patients to stop by the office to pick up their medical records.
"Dr. Kiteck wishes to thank all his patients that have visited his office over the past 20 years, and apologizes for this inconvenience," the ad concludes.
Kiteck told WND one provision in particular led to this difficult decision.
"I'm leaving because I can't afford at this point the electronic medical records and electronic transcribing that's being instituted to practices. We're required to do that. If you don't do it, you get penalized," Kiteck said.
He said whether he complies with the electronic records mandate or pays the fines, the costs are simply prohibitive.
"It's variable, but it can cost up to $20,000. But it's more than that. You have to train your staff and train [your]self. Plus, you have to scan all your medical records. I have over 6,000 medical records. These have to be scanned and copied and put onto the computer. That takes thousands of man hours or woman hours, overtime and things like that," Kiteck said.
"So the total costs together, as I say, maybe $20,000-$30,000. It's just too much of a financial burden to go into right now. I'm approaching 65 years old, even though I'd like to practice into the sunset for 10 more years. But when this came along, I felt this was the best decision to make for our medical practice."
The decision comes only after Kiteck attempted to find relief from the federal government but was flatly denied.
"I tried to get to a grandfather clause in that," he said. "I tried to make an application and be grandfathered for an older doctor and not have to do it. But they said no. It's a 100 percent rule, and I was rejected immediately so that didn't work, either."
As expensive as compliance would be for Kiteck, he said the cost of noncompliance is also steep.
"The penalty may seem small. It's approximately one-and-a-half [percent] this year. Next year it'll go up to two percent, two percent of each Medicare and Medicaid doctor's visit. That adds up. Thousands of patients a year means thousands of dollars," he said.
Some other doctors in town don't face the same concerns, but Kiteck's explanation suggests others around the nation may be squeezed.
"Most doctors are putting out the finances to switch over to electronic medical records. They're younger. Maybe they've got the finances to do it. A lot of them are in a large group practice. A lot of them are associated with the hospital. So I think they've got some financial assistance from the hospital that's helping them out. I'm a sole practitioner. I don't do hospital practice. I'm separate from it, just a little mom-and-pop type practice. All the financial responsibility would be on my shoulders," he explained.
Kiteck said he and other doctors in town are concerned about the long-term issue of reimbursement for Medicaid and Medicare patients, but the medical records mandate is the pressing issue for him. He said he'll stay in the area and may look for some "subcontract, part-time work" but he has no firm plans for what comes next.