Congress Takes Medicare Physician Salary Crag

What are the news: After months of fierce advocacy by the AMA and other physician organizations, Congress acted this week to address the combined 9.75% reductions in physician payments for Medicare, which amounted to a cliff payment for physicians. doctors and were due to go into effect Jan. 1, 2022. President Biden is expected to sign the bill.

Highlights of the physician compensation provisions include:

  • A delay in resuming Medicare escrow at 2% for three months (January 1 to March 31, 2022), followed by a reduction to 1% for three months (April 1 to June 30, 2022).
  • A one-year increase in the Medicare physician payment schedule of 3%, 0.75% less than the conversion factor increase planned for 2021.
  • One year behind in the cuts in the payment schedule for clinical laboratories.
  • One year behind schedule for Medicare radiation oncology demonstration.
  • Prevents the 4% reduction in Medicare pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) for 2022.

WADA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD, welcomed the passage of the legislation by the Senate on Thursday.

“The wheels of Congress don’t always move quickly, but today they have shifted towards preserving the viability of physician practices and maintaining access to care,” said Dr. Harmon.

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Why this is important: “Potential cuts in Medicare payments for medical services hung over the heads of patients and practices like a sword of Damocles,” he added in a statement. “Senate action today, following a similar vote in the House this week, would delay cuts and give Congress time to work on reforms to address flaws in the Medicare payment system.”

“You don’t have to wait until the last minute to start working on systemic issues,” Dr. Harmon said. “These automatic cuts should remind members of the necessary reforms. Congress can get a head start to do the right thing when it meets early next year. ”

In a statement earlier this year, Dr Harmon noted that Medicare’s nearly 10% payment cliff came “at a time when the practices of physicians are still recovering the personal and financial impacts of the public health emergency. COVID ”.

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Learn more: Todd Askew, senior vice president of advocacy at AMA, appeared on “AMA Moving Medicine” to detail the legislative stoppage of the physician pay cliff and underscore the need for longer term structural changes in paying Medicare doctors who protect patient access. to heal and practice sustainability.

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