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| 1 minute read

Congress acts to avert the full brunt of Medicare physician fee cuts for 2024

The annual cycle of cuts to Medicare payments to physicians and the need for Congressional intervention continues. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by a vote of 339-85 the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024 that, among numerous other spending measures, helped reduce the full extent of cuts to Medicare payments for physician services. At this writing, concurrence by the U.S. Senate is still pending.

An issue closely followed by the Radiology Business Management Association and other stakeholders was action to make up some of the 3.37% cuts to Medicare payments to physicians contained in the 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule final rule. Yesterday's action netted a 1.68% increase to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule rates, effective on March 9.

How they did that included an action for which I don't know the rationale as of yet. The legislation -- also effective on March 9 -- included a provision that ended on that date an increase of 1.25% in MPFS payments that had been adopted for CY 2024 by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 way back in December 2022.  Yesterday's vote replaced repeal of the CAA, 2023 increase of 1.25% with an overall 2.93% increase in MPFS payments from March 9 until the end of the calendar year.

Thus, the net increase in MPFS payments from March 9, 2024 until January 1 , 2025 will be 1.68% increase of the MPFS conversion factor.

I am curious to learn why the Congress ended and at the same time then replaced the repealed CAA, 2023 payment increase by enacting an overall 2.93% in MPFS payments beginning March 9. Nevertheless, regardless of the route, the 1.68% net increase will be welcomed by physicians and other suppliers paid via the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.

One can easily concur with  American Medical Association President,  Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, who said “The need to stop the annual cycle of pay cuts and patches and enact permanent Medicare payment reforms could not be more clear."

The U.S. Congress has again failed to stop in its entirety a pay cut that will threaten Medicare patients’ access to high-quality physician care.


medicare, congress, physician payments, health care & life sciences