Dr. Francis Brescia, Jr. has been seeing patients at his small practice in Dauphin for 34 years.
“Family doctors, we’re a certain breed,” he says. “We like people.”
But high costs are closing practices like his across the country, and now he’s facing his own from the government.
Congress pushed doctors to switch to electronic health records for years. But under the Affordable Care Act, it became a mandate. Doctors will be penalized if they don’t go electronic.
It’s a big expense, so the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services offered incentives to doctors to help cover the cost.
So Brescia complied right away. In 2012, he hired a software company make the switch. But the company, ISuite, went bankrupt. Brescia lost four years of his records that he’s still trying to recover.
“I’m not a computer specialist, I’m just a family doctor trying to survive out here, and give my patients excellent care,” he says.
He has a new software company handling his electronic records. But he was audited for 2011, and because he doesn’t have the missing records, CMS says he must pay them $18,000.
Brescia says he had to pay double for the electronic switch, with the first and second company. And to pay this fee back is a hardship.
“I think did everything right,” he says. “I followed the rules. Why am I being punished, because I’m a solo practice?”
Brescia says he believes the mandates of the Affordable Care Act will eliminate smaller practices in the future.
“We’re dinosaurs, we’re not going to be here in 10 years,” he says. “You’re going to have nurse practitioners and PAs taking care of the public. And I just think I did everything fair, and I’m not getting a fair shake.”
The Centers for Medicare and medicaid Services refers doctors to their regional office in PA for guidance. PA REACH helps doctors make the switch to electronic records. They work with 6,000 doctors in the state with small to medium practices, and they say they will review Brescia’s case.