Warns of “access issues” if lawmakers fail to act
Medicare funding cuts contained in the temporary spending resolution Congress passed Thursday will harm medical care and make it harder for many patients to obtain, according to the American Medical Association (AMA).
“We are disappointed that Congress chose not to stop serious Medicare cuts for physician services in the temporary CR” [continuing resolution], AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., M.P.H. said in a written statement. “Failure to reverse these cuts will create access issues for patients and small, independent physician practices, especially those in rural and underserved areas.”
The AMA's message was echoed in a statement from the American College of Physicians (ACP). "For years, physicians have struggled with this broken Medicare system that does not allow them to keep up the cost of providing care," said Shari M. Erickson, MPH, chief advocacy officer and senior vice president of governmental affairs and public policy for the ACP.
"We need Congress to step in to reverse this year’s payment cut and find a long-term solution that would ensure that physicians are appropriately compensated for the care they deliver to our nation's seniors,” Erickson added.
In November, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved a 3.37% cut in physician payment in the 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, prompting opposition from physicians’ groups and other health care stakeholders. In today’s statement Resnick said, “Physicians are the only providers who have a payment cut this year and now face a nearly 10% reduction in Medicare payments over the past four years.”
The continuing resolution, which passed both houses of Congress on a bipartisan basis, gives lawmakers additional time to negotiate a permanent budget for 2024. It extends until March 1 funding for some federal agencies that would have expired on January 20. Funding for the remaining agencies will be extended from February 2 to March 8. That means Congress could still partially or completely rescind the cuts, a possibility Ehrenfeld acknowledged in his statement.
“We recognize that Congress’s work is far from done and urge lawmakers to reverse these cuts at the soonest opportunity,” he said.