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Physician groups say changes to Medicare payment are key for primary care


The groups are urging Congress to ensure that changes scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1 are implemented.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) and other physician groups have written a letter to congressional leaders urging the implementation of essential changes to Medicare payments set to take effect Jan. 1.

According to a news release, the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2021 includes changes to Medicare payments for office visits and related evaluation and management (E/M) services, including the GPC1X code for complex visits.

“These payment increases are critical to primary care physicians, whose practices have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, MACP, president of ACP, says in the release. “These payment increases will be critical to many practices continuing to operate and provide frontline care in their communities.”

The full letter can be read here.

The groups noted in the letter that they support a temporary policy to make sure no physician services receive reduced payments due to the application of budget neutrality by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

“Our organizations represent hundreds of thousands of physicians who are serving on the frontlines of a worsening public health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the letter says. “Our members provide primary, comprehensive, preventive and complex care to millions of Medicare patients, including patients who are at high-risk or are currently suffering from severe COVID-19 disease. They also provide preventive health services and treat the many millions of Medicare patients with other health conditions, including patients with multiple chronic diseases.”

The letter outlines four priorities for legislation that addresses physician payment:

  • The full implementation of the aforementioned Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2021 on Jan. 1
  • The G code for complex visits must also be allowed to be fully implemented Jan. 1
  • Legislation aimed at alleviating the impact of budget neutrality adjustments contained in the fee schedule should provide equitable relief across services and specialties
  • Implement a one-year waiver of budget neutrality adjustments in the fee schedule
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