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Physicians call on lawmakers to turn back the cut to Medicare reimbursement


Report: One legislator says it could happen in federal spending bill next month.

© American Medical Association

The American Medical Association published this graphic as part of its continuing information campaign to reverse this year's 3.4% cut to remibursement in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.
© American Medical Association

Could lawmakers formulate the remedy for a 3.4% cut to reimbursement in this year’s Medicare Physician Fee Schedule?

Doctors hope so and were pleading their case on Capitol Hill this week, according to politics watcher Roll Call.

Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD (R-Indiana), on Tuesday said Congress could address at least part of the cuts in a spending package due for a vote next month, according to Roll Call.

“Do I think we’ll get the full 3.4 percent?” said the report about Bucshon’s appearance before the American Medical Association’s (AMA) national advocacy conference. “I don’t know, but people in both political parties and on both sides of the Capitol know this has to be fixed.”

Bucshon made the comments as about 400 physicians from around the country arrived on Capitol Hill to lobby to reverse the cuts that started in January. Restoring the 2024 payments and reforming Medicare physician payment reforms were at the top of the agenda that AMA published for the gathering Feb. 12-14.

The Roll Call report also cited comments from Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH.

This month, Ehrenfeld, a vocal opponent of the reimbursement cut to physicians, said the reduction was a “financial calamity that is pushing physician practices to the brink.” He published an essay on the cuts ahead of the national conference, noting AMA has created advocacy materials and relaunched the FixMedicareNow.org website with information about the issue.

AMA also supports House Resolution (HR) 6683, known as the “Preserving Seniors’ Access to Physicians Act,” a bipartisan bill introduced in December 2023 by Rep. Greg Murphy, MD (R-North Carolina). Bucshon also is sponsoring that legislation.

“Washington spends a lot of time talking about protecting health care access for Medicare patients, yet year after year, makes it more difficult for doctors to take care of them," Murphy said in a statement when the bill was introduced.

"This bill takes action on a critical issue others refuse to do – pays physicians, who serve Medicare patients out of the goodness of their hearts, because Medicare payments simply don’t pay for the cost of care,” he said. “I am past done with the onslaught of cuts made by politicians and unelected bureaucrats who regard doctors and patients as little more than cogs in the wheels of health care. Sooner, rather than later, physicians are just going to stop taking Medicare. If you own the hardware store, why would you sell a hammer for a dollar when it costs you two dollars? Enough is enough. This is one more step towards fixing the broken Medicare system."

AMA also supports two other pending bills. HR 6371 would reform the Medicare budget neutrality policies that have resulted in lower payments to physicians. HR 2474, known as the “Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act,” would provide automatic, annual payment updates to account for practice cost inflation as reflected in the Medicare Economic Index.

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