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Radiology organizations appeal to Congress to avert looming 2023 Medicare physician fee payment cuts

This week, eight diagnostic imaging stakeholders joined together in a letter to key Congressional committee leadership expressing alarm over looming double digit cuts in payments for radiology services arising from the 2023 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) proposed rule, combined with the expiration of previous congressional interventions. Their joint letter was sent to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Finance Committee, House Ways and Means Committee, and House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The stakeholder letter recalls that previously Congress enacted the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) which was designed to bring stability to the nation's health care infrastructure and ensure access to vital health services, but instead, each year, the Medicare payment system brings potential catastrophic payment cuts that can only be averted by Congressional action. They called on the committee leaders to not only address these immediate cuts, but to also look for more permanent solutions, such as repealing budget neutrality and tying reimbursement to inflation.

Subsequently, letter co-signer Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) issued a statement underscoring the concerns of MITA and other co-signers over the pending MPFS cuts. MITA's executive director Patrick Hope said, “[t]here’s no doubt that the last two and half years have fundamentally changed our healthcare landscape, but that is all the more reason policymakers should be seeking to support care providers, not cut them." In the statement, Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA) executive director Bob Still told MITA, “[b]etween historic inflation, a continuing pandemic, and the emerging threat of double-digit cuts, patient access to care is being threatened like never before,” 

MITA spoke to Christopher Crancer, Senior Vice President of Radiologist Partnerships and Policy and the Executive Director of the RAYUS Quality Institute, who observed, “[t]hese cuts will result in disproportionately limited access to care for those that need it the most. Congress and CMS must act to provide much needed permanent stability and predictability to the system by implementing an inflation escalator and by eliminating outdated ‘budget neutrality’ strictures."

The MITA statement also quotes William T. Thorwarth, MD, FACR, chief executive officer of the American College of Radiology, saying, “[w]ith use of cancer screenings and other imaging exams not fully rebounded to pre-COVID levels, and experts predicting additional deaths due to this trend, Congress must act to stop these drastic imaging cuts from further reducing access and making a bad situation even worse.” 

The radiology organizations recall for the Congressional leaders the enduring global pandemic, a subsequent supply chain crisis, and the steep increased cost of nearly all aspects of maintaining operations. I cannot agree more with their view that "the latest MPFS proposed rule cuts only will make matters worse and threaten access to life-saving procedures and continued operation of essential services."

Just as damaging, the authors suggest, the slash would intensify the pressures of a looming 4% pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) reduction and a 2% Medicare sequestration cut intended to align CMS’s budget with across-the-board federal budget constraints.

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health care & life sciences, diagnostic radiology, mpfs

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