CMS axes physician pay

CMS will cut overall physician pay by 1.25% in 2023, according to its 2024 Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule released Nov. 2. 

The rule updates the Medicare conversion factor to $32.74, a 3.4% decrease from last year, but does improve pay for primary care and mental healthcare. 

The drop will likely be challenging to independent physicians, according to a statement from American Medical Association President Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD. He noted the Medicare Economic Index increased 4.6%, the highest in the last 23 years.

"This is a recipe for financial instability. Patients and physicians will wonder why such thin gruel is being served," Dr. Ehrenfeld wrote in a Nov. 2 statement. "Physicians routinely have faced cuts in the last two decades. Yet, there is nothing routine about the past few years. Physicians have faced the COVID pandemic and subsequent burnout. They have seen the costs soar for running a medical practice, while Medicare payment updates have offered too little relief."

When Medicare released its proposal to cut physician pay in July, physicians expressed concerns to Becker's about the effect the cuts would have on the industry. 

"This is a slap in the face to physicians," Sri Sundaram, MD, cardiologist at South Denver Cardiology, told Becker's in July. "There is already a physician shortage in the United States. This is easily gonna make this worse. Why would anyone want to go into medicine knowing they're gonna make decreased pay, despite having to work long hours and place their own personal health in jeopardy?"

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