Physicians are struggling as costs increase, but payments are going down over time.
Physicians are launching a new campaign to boost Medicare payments.
The American Medical Association (AMA) announced doctors will redouble their efforts to urge Congress “to overhaul the outdated Medicare payment system,” which is declining over time for physicians.
“This cannot wait; we are past the breaking point,” AMA President Jack Resneck Jr., MD, said in a news release. “Congress must urgently address physician concerns about Medicare to account for inflation and the post-pandemic economic reality facing practices nationwide. Our patients are counting on us to deliver the message that access to health care is jeopardized by Medicare’s payment system. Being mad isn’t enough. We will develop a campaign – targeted and grass roots – that will drive home our message.”
AMA cited inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic, and generally increasing costs of running a medical practice, as factors that are jeopardizing access to care because “physicians have struggled to keep open their doors.”
Medicare payments went down 2% for 2023, and Medicare physician payment has declined 26% from 2001 to 2023, according to AMA.
“These increasingly thin or negative operating margins disproportionately affect small, independent, and rural physician practices, as well as those treating low-income or other historically minoritized or marginalized patient communities,” the AMA announcement said.
In January, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission called for a physician payment update tied to the Medicare Economic Index (MEI) for the first time. In April, a bipartisan group of House members introduced House Resolution 2474, the Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act, a bill that would provide annual inflation updates to the Medicare fee schedule based on the MEI.
“Duct-taping the widening cracks of a dilapidated payment system has put us in this precarious situation,” Resneck said in the AMA announcement. “Physicians are united in our determination to build a solid foundation rather than further jury-rigging the system.”