The American Medical Association (AMA) warned congressional leaders that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) report sent to Congress contains flawed analyses that would imperil patient access to high-quality care.
The MedPAC report recommended a continuation of the freeze in Medicare physician fee payments but ignores a host of trailing indicators, none more obvious than the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physician practices. In 2020, there was a $13.9 billion decrease in Medicare physician fee schedule spending as patients delayed treatments. Burnout, stress, workload, and fear of COVID infection are leading one in five physicians to consider leaving their current practice within two years.
The letter to Congress includes a chart - based on an analysis of data from the Medicare Trustees - that shows Medicare physician payment has been reduced 20 percent, adjusted for inflation, from 2001-2021. That analysis does not include the recent inflationary spike. Also, the Medicare physician payment system lacks an adequate annual physician payment update similar to other Medicare providers
In its letter, the AMA emphasized the urgency for Congress to "work with the physician community to develop solutions to the systematic problems with the Medicare physician payment system and preserve patient access to care. At a minimum, Congress must establish a stable, annual Medicare physician payment update that keeps pace with inflation and practice costs and allows for innovation to ensure Medicare patients continue to have access to physician practice-based care."
The letter is here.