ACP commends new Medicare fee schedule

August 5, 2020
Keith A. Reynolds
Keith A. Reynolds

The organization say the changes to payments for offices visits will help physicians and practices.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) expressed support for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) recent changes to the Medicare fee schedule saying that it better recognizes the value of cognitive services.

According to a news release, the proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2021 ensures that CMS’ 2019 decision to implement new and improved payment rates for evaluation and management (E/M) services will go into effect Jan. 1.

For more information on the proposed fee schedule click here.

The specific changes in the work relative value units (RVUs) for outpatient E/M services were derived from the recommendations of a multi-disciplinary advisory process, which ACP took part in, according to the release.

“Medicare has long undervalued office visit services provided by internal medicine and other cognitive and primary care physicians, and CMS’s decision to move forward with higher payments for E/M services is a major step toward recognizing the importance of these services to our patients,” Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, MACP, president of ACP, says in the release.“These changes are especially important at a time when many primary care practices in particular are under severe financial stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are at risk of closing their doors.”

The release notes that CMS’ application of a budget neutrality adjustment to the new fee schedule to offset the cost incurred from the changes in RVUs for E/M which may lead to some reductions for some practices. ACP supports requests to Congress to waive the budget neutrality requirement for the 2021 Medicare Fee Schedule RVU increases unless it would delay or undermine the E/M increases on Jan. 1.

“The improvements that CMS has included in the proposed fee schedule for 2021 will go a long way to help physician practices next year and in the future.However, more still needs to be done to support physician practices, particularly primary care practices, to weather the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fincher says. “We will be continuing to analyze the proposed rule and communicating with CMS about what more should be done to help internal medicine physicians and their patients.”