The AMA has been sounding the alarm bell for months that if Congress does not act by the end of the year, physicians will face devastating Medicare payment cuts from regulatory changes enacted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Unfortunately, Congress has only a few precious days left to pass legislation to stave off these harmful cuts. 

If Congress fails to act, physician Medicare payments are scheduled to be cut by 4.5% on Jan. 1, 2023.  Cuts of this magnitude would severely impede patient access to care by forcing many physician practices to close and thereby putting further strain on those that remained open during the pandemic.  

In sign-on letters organized by the AMA, all 50 state medical associations (PDF) and more than 100 national specialty societies and others (PDF) representing over one million physicians and other health care clinicians strongly urged Congress to take action to prevent the entirety of the 4.5% cut. For a more detailed overview of the letters and the cost of congressional inaction, read this story by Kevin B. O’Reilly, AMA news editor.  

The scheduled cuts will come in the form of: 

  • CMS regulation: CMS has proposed a 4.5% cut for all physician services in 2023 to offset payment policy improvements in office and facility-based visits. 
  • No inflationary update: Physicians are the only providers whose Medicare payments do not automatically receive an annual inflationary update; during this time of record inflation and coming on the heels of a highly disruptive pandemic, this statutory flaw amplifies the impact of proposed payment cuts. 

When adjusted for inflation, Medicare physician payments have dropped by 22% from 2001 to 2021. Physicians simply cannot afford to operate under the current payment system. Congress must reform the Medicare physician payment system to make it simpler, more reflective of real-world physician practice costs and stable for both physicians and patients before it is too late. 

The "lame duck" session of Congress is always a chaotic time with numerous priorities and interests vying to be included in the final must-pass package. With so much at stake, America's patients and physicians cannot afford to get lost in the shuffle.   

Time is running out—Contact Congress NOW and demand that they protect patients and practices by canceling these devastating Medicare cuts in their entirety before the clock strikes zero. 

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