120+ physician organizations ask CMS to change physician payments as a 8.42% cut looms

More than 120 state and national medical associations are asking Congress to reform Medicare's physician payment rates, according to a Sept. 28 blog post from the American Medical Association. 

Physician practices are preparing for an 8.42 percent drop in Medicare payment rates next year. CMS has proposed a 4.42 percent reduction in conversion factor along with the 4 percent statutory Pay-As-You-Go sequester, which was implemented to offset congressional spending outside of healthcare.

Additionally, physicians' Medicare payment update for 2020 is 0 percent, and both the 5 percent bonus for participating in an alternative payment model and the $500 million bonus pool for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System are expiring.

The rising costs of running a practice and the financial burdens of Medicare participation are encouraging consolidation and threatening patients' access to care, the blog post stated. 

"This instability is being driven by a confluence of fiscal uncertainties physician practices face related to statutory payment cuts, perennial lack of inflationary updates, significant administrative barriers and the cumulative impact of the pandemic," a letter to Congress signed by the AMA and other organizations said. "The Medicare payment system remains on an unsustainable path threatening beneficiaries' access to physicians."

The AMA urges Congress to support H.R. 8800, bipartisan legislation aimed to mitigate these cuts. The bill says action is needed to ensure stability in the Medicare physician payment system and promote value-based care, among other stipulations.

The letter asks CMS to do the following: 

  • Provide relief from the planned 4.42 percent cut
  • End the statutory annual freeze and provide an inflation update 
  • Prevent the scheduled 5 percent payment cut for alternative payment models
  • Waive the 4 percent pay-as-you-go sequester 

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