We live in a time when it is challenging to gain consensus on any issue. But that is what is demonstrated in a letter directed to Congressional leadership signed by medical associations from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. The medical associations have joined forces to appeal to Congress to take steps before the end of the year to stop looming Medicare payment cuts.
The associations, collectively representing hundreds of thousands of physicians and the patients they serve across the U.S., asked for Congressional action to prevent the entirety of the 4.5% reduction to Medicare payment rates contained in the CY 2023 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) rule from being implemented on January 1, 2023.
The 51 associations note the impending MPFS payment cut comes as medical practices throughout the country are experiencing pressures stemming from rising rates of inflation. Physicians, they write, are the only health care providers whose Medicare payments do not automatically receive an annual inflationary update. Consequently, when adjusted for inflation in practice costs, Medicare physician pay has declined 22 percent from 2001 to 2021.
One can hope that Congress will once again agree to intervene at year end to block MPFS payment cuts. We have to recognize that this annual exercise is inherent in the MPFS payment methodology. Moving forward, Congress must not only prevent the annual payment cuts, it must also recognize the need to make critical reforms to the MPFS system. Reform would include addressing the budget neutrality requirement which leads year-after-year to arbitrary reductions to Medicare physician services reimbursement unrelated to the cost of providing care.
Do the right thing and fix this, Congress.