Medicare & Medicaid

Big provisions in $1.7 trillion omnibus: What doctors should know

Kevin B. O'Reilly , Senior News Editor

In enacting the 4,000-plus page, end-of-the-year spending package, Washington politicians failed to stop the entirety of scheduled Medicare pay cuts, which will come at a financially precarious time for physician practices left reeling in the COVID-19 pandemic’s third year.

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Because of that, physicians will face a 2% cut in Medicare payment in 2023, and 2024 will bring at least a 1.25% cut. Nevertheless, the $1.7 trillion bill signed by President Joe Biden does include a number of important AMA-supported provisions that physicians should know about, as detailed in this comprehensive summary from the AMA (PDF).

Among other things, the omnibus bill extends:

The new law also adds:

  • An exception to the Stark law to allow hospitals and other entities to provide evidence-based programs to boost physician resiliency and mental health and prevent suicide among physicians.
  • A permanent option for states to provide Medicaid coverage for 12 months postpartum.
  • 200 more graduate medical education positions, 100 of which will be in psychiatry or psychiatric subspecialties—a small, but essential step to address physician shortages.
  • A requirement for Medicare Part B coverage of compression garments to treat lymphedema.

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The spending package also incorporates central provisions of the:

The failure to stop all of the Medicare physician payment cuts represents a deliberate decision by Congress to move away from the precedent set in 2021 of providing relief from budget-neutrality cuts.

Because of this, Congress has an increased responsibility to make important reforms to the Medicare physician payment system to ensure regular updates that reflect increases in the cost of providing care, like those included in payment systems for all other Medicare providers.

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This year, the AMA will continue challenging Congress to work on systemic reforms and make Medicare work better for you and your patients.

Visit AMA Advocacy in Action to find out what’s at stake in reforming Medicare payment and other advocacy priorities the AMA is actively working on.