On the heels of this month's publication of the 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) Rule by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), outreach has already begun to the leaders in Congress imploring them to intervene and stop the payment cuts contained in the new rule. As we reported last week, the 2024 final MPFS rule sets the conversion factor at a level which produces a 3.37% reduction in payments compared to the 2023 fee schedule.
A coalition of 54 organizations representing physicians and other health care providers across the United States have now written to the Democratic and Republican leaders of the U.S Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, urging Congress to stop the cuts to Medicare physician payment contained in the final rule. The letter is short, blunt and to the point.
The coalition of organizations focus their appeal on the oversized consequences of implementation of the newly created G2211 code (visit complexity inherent to evaluation and management services) that becomes active on January 1, 2024. The letter to Congressional leaders asserts that, due to budget neutrality requirements, the majority of the cuts in payments result from the decision to increase payments for primary care services through the creation of the new code. CMS acknowledged in the final rule that implementation of the G2211 code will be responsible for roughly 90% of the proposed budget neutrality reductions in the coming year. (See my comments on this aspect of the new rule.)
The organizations also call attention to the expected 4.6% increase in medical practice cost inflation in 2024, as measured by the Medicare economic index. Without Congressional intervention, the impact of the Medicare fee cuts will be dire.
The letter's terse and urgent appeal to the leaders requests, in the absence of long-term reform to Medicare physician fee schedule payment methodology, that Congress must stop the approximate 3.4% cut. Expect much pressure directed at Congress to do just that before the end of the year.