Physician fee schedule: Organizations respond

Physician organizations give their take on the newly release physician fee schedule.

With the release of the 2022 physician fee schedule, physician organizations are now speaking out about what they like and dislike about the new rules.

The new fee schedule extends some telehealth provisions that were implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, sets the payment for COVID-19 vaccines through the end of the public health emergency, and lowers the conversion factor down to $33.59.

Gerald E. Harmon, M.D., president of the American Medical Association (AMA) took aim at the reduction in a statement.

““While the AMA will thoroughly analyze the 2,400+ page rule, it is a reminder of the financial peril facing physician practices at the end of the year,” Harmon says in the statement. “The final rule includes a reduction in the 2022 Medicare conversion factor of about 3.85 percent. The AMA is strongly advocating for Congress to avert this and other looming cuts to Medicare physician payments that, overall, will produce a combined 9.75 percent cut for 2022. This comes at a time when physician practices are still recovering the personal and financial impacts of the COVID public health emergency. Congress is beginning to recognize that this financial instability could limit health care access for Medicare patients. The clock is ticking."

George M. Abraham, MD, MPH, president of the American College of Physicians (ACP), touted the fee schedule’s step toward recognizing the time investment and complexity of treating critically ill or injured patients in a statement, but also called on Congress to act on pending physician payment cuts.

“We are once again facing a potential drastic cut in physician payments at the end of the year,” Abraham says in the statement. “It is imperative that Congress step in to prevent the cuts and ensure stability while our health care system is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact to physician practices will be even greater when you couple these cuts with the huge impact that the pandemic has had on internal medicine specialists and other frontline physicians.We need to ensure that practices across the country are able to continue to operate and provide frontline care that improves health equity and patient access in their communities.”

Sterling N. Ransone, Jr., MD, FAAFP, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), applauded many of the new fee schedule’s provisions while also calling for Congress to act on the looming cuts in a statement.

“On behalf of the family physicians we represent, the AAFP appreciates CMS’ efforts to support primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic and for years to come,” Ransone says. “We stand ready to partner with CMS to design and implement policies to advance our shared goals of improving access to quality, affordable health care for all through the MPFS and by facilitating the transition to value-based care.”

Clif Gaus, Sc.D., president and CEO of the National Association of ACOs (NAACOS), lauded the three year delay on a planned overhaul of accountable care organization reporting and quality measures in a statement.

“For more than a year, NAACOS has cited numerous potential negative consequences to patient care among the many reasons why such a rapid shift to electronic clinical quality measure (eCQM) reporting was bad policy,” Gaus says. “We appreciate CMS listening to ACOs, providers, and the health IT vendor community on the need for more time and additional changes. We hope the agency uses the next three years to make further refinements to the policy to make it workable, fair, and an accurate representation of the quality of care ACOs provide. Ensuring high-quality care is a hallmark of ACO programs, so it’s important that any changes not create unintended consequences.”