Medicare & Medicaid

New year, new hope: Momentum builds in Congress to cancel the cut

Kevin B. O'Reilly , Senior News Editor

AMA News Wire

New year, new hope: Momentum builds in Congress to cancel the cut

Jan 4, 2024

What’s the news: Bipartisan support to cancel the entirety of the 3.37% Medicare physician pay cut that took effect Jan. 1 is growing, with nearly 200 members of Congress co-signing a letter (PDF) urging House and Senate leaders to expeditiously pass legislation to address 2024 Medicare payment cuts. 

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“We in Congress must continue our partnership with the physician and provider community to ensure that Medicare patients continue to have access to quality care,” says the letter, led by Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, MD (R-Iowa), Ami Bera, MD (D-Calif.), Larry Bucshon, MD (R-Ind.) and Kim Schrier, MD (D-Wash.).

Physicians, who “are confronting inflationary pressures and workforce shortages, need Congress to prevent this cut, which will add significant burdens to the health care infrastructure and the communities they serve,” says the letter, sent to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), as well as House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Minority Leader  Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)

To capitalize on the grassroots momentum associated with this forceful letter, physicians and patients should visit the AMA’s Fix Medicare Now website to write their congressional representatives to support this critical legislation.  

Leading the charge to reform Medicare pay is the first pillar of the AMA Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians.

The AMA has challenged Congress to work on systemic reforms and make Medicare work better for you and your patients. Our work will continue, fighting tirelessly against future cuts—and against all barriers to patient care.  

 Why it’s important: Without congressional intervention, Medicare physician payments will be reduced by 3.37% for the remainder of this year due to budget-neutrality requirements within the calendar-year 2024 Medicare physician payment schedule’s final rule. 

In a statement, AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, made clear the stakes facing patients and physicians.

“After three consecutive years of cuts to Medicare services, physicians and the patients they treat are at a crossroads. Facing a nearly 10% reduction in Medicare payments over the past four years and rising practice costs on top of the burdens and burnout of three years of COVID-19, for many physicians, continuing down this road is unsustainable,” he said. “These cuts will be felt first and hardest in rural and underserved areas that continue to face significant health care access challenges. Medicare physicians do not receive inflationary payment updates, which is why eliminating these cuts is so crucial.” 

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Reps. Miller-Meeks, Bera and Bucshon—along with Rep. Raul Ruiz, MD (D-Calif.)—are also the lead sponsors of H.R. 2474, the Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act. That bipartisan legislation would provide physicians with an annual, permanent inflationary payment update in Medicare tied to the Medicare Economic Index (MEI). 

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While the AMA strongly supports H.R. 2474 as it is part of the longer-term effort to overhaul the flawed Medicare payment system, this letter helps draw greater attention to the short-term need to stop the 3.37% physician reimbursement cuts.  

The letter came on the heels of last month’s introduction of H.R. 6683, the Preserving Seniors’ Access to Physicians Act. The bipartisan bill, which stops the 3.37% cut, in full, was introduced by Reps. Greg Murphy, MD (R-N.C.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Dr. Buchson and Michael Burgess, MD (R-Texas). 

To capitalize on the grassroots momentum associated with the letter from Representatives Miller-Meeks, Bera, Bucshon, and Schrier, physicians should contact their members of Congress and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 6683. The AMA is also proud to support H.R. 6683 (PDF) and sincerely appreciates the ongoing grassroots advocacy related to stopping Medicare payment cuts.

Learn more: Tune into the next episode of the “AMA Advocacy Insights Webinar Series” on Jan. 9, 11 a.m. Central, to get the latest on the Medicare physician payment legislation.

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.  

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