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AMA chides lawmakers for not changing Medicare Physician Fee Schedule

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Article

Proposals, money and 'perpetual hope' are all there. Now action is needed.

us capitol christmas tree congress: © Chris - stock.adobe.com

© Chris - stock.adobe.com

The American Medical Association (AMA) chided Congress and the administration of President Joe Biden for concluding legislative business in 2023 without a boost in physician pay.

For months, physicians and medical organizations have called for action against the looming 3.37% cut to physician payments in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.

Leaders in Washington have proposed the bipartisan “Preserving Seniors’ Access to Physicians Act of 2023,” which would eliminate the cut. The fiscal year 2024 National Defense Authorization bill includes $2.2 billion in sequester cuts for physicians in a Medicare Improvement Fund. AMA said that “more than enough funding to stop the 3.37% cuts in their entirety.”

Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH 
American Medical Association

Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH
American Medical Association

But without action, the 3.37% cut will take effect Jan. 1, 2024.

“After three consecutive years of cuts to Medicare services, physicians and the patients they treat are at a crossroads,” AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, said in a Dec. 15 statement.

Physicians have had an almost 10% reduction in Medicare payments over the past four years, while facing inflation and burnout from dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For many physicians, continuing down this road is unsustainable,” Ehrenfeld said in the statement. “These cuts will be felt first and hardest in rural and underserved areas that continue to face significant health care access challenges. Medicare physicians do not receive inflationary payment updates, which is why eliminating these cuts is so crucial.”

Ehrenfeld cited the movie “Home Alone.” The story of a young boy fending off burglars while his family is away on a Christmas vacation lands on television frequently during the holiday season.

“But as Kate McCallister famously said in ‘Home Alone,’ ‘This is Christmas – the season of perpetual hope,’” Ehrenfeld said. “Congress has multiple paths to avert these cuts, preserve seniors’ access to their physicians, and ensure access to Medicare across the country; we have a bipartisan legislative fix and more than enough funding in the Medicare Improvement Fund.

“We urge lawmakers to act quickly, preserve Medicare access, and pass this vital legislation,” he said. “They’ll have physicians and patients alike saying, ‘to us, you are perfect.’”

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