Although portions of the 8.5% Medicare physician reimbursement cut scheduled for 2023 were averted, the remaining 2% across-the-board reduction comes on the heels of two decades of stagnant payment rates. After adjusting for inflation in practice costs, Medicare physician pay dropped by 22% between 2001 and 2021.
The ACR signed onto a joint letter urging Congress for comprehensive reform of the Medicare payment system and seeking long-term payment solutions that allow clinicians to continue to care for Medicare patients.
Congress should also reassess the financial burden imposed on physician practices by the budget neutrality rules and avoid the annual, end-of-year scramble to avoid cuts. It should implement reforms centered on simplicity, predictability, relevance and alignment, as spelled out in the core principles released last year by the American Medical Association and supported by the ACR.
Additionally, the ACR will advocate for an inflation-based annual update to the Medicare physician payment system. This logical adjustment is automatic and yields a yearly increase for hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and others that bill Medicare, but not physicians who treat Medicare patients.