What’s the news: The AMA is strongly supporting a bill introduced in Congress that would completely eliminate the 3.37% Medicare physician pay cut scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
The House bill, introduced Thursday by Reps. Greg Murphy, MD, (R-N.C.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Larry Bucshon, MD (R-Ind.), and Michael Burgess, MD (R-Texas), is called the Preserving Seniors’ Access to Physicians Act of 2023.
With the bill’s introduction, now “patients and physicians have a clear-eyed view on how to protect Medicare from injurious cuts,” said AMA President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH.
The Senate Finance and the House Energy and Commerce Committees passed out legislation that would provide partial relief—1.25%—from the Medicare cuts. The remaining committee of jurisdiction, the House Ways and Means Committee, is not expected to mark up any legislation this month to address the issue.
The Preserving Seniors’ Access to Physicians Act represents the best opportunity to advance legislation to eliminate the cuts in their entirety.
Congress plans to include a package of health care bills as part of a federal appropriations package in mid-January to fund the government in fiscal year 2024.
The scheduled Medicare physician pay cut “threatens health care access for seniors as well as the viability of physician practices, including many in rural and underserved areas,” said Dr. Ehrenfeld. “Canceling the cut is a good New Year's resolution."
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: The 3.37% Medicare physician pay cut in 2024 would come on top of this year’s 2% pay cut. And while virtually every other type of provider gets annual, inflationary pay updates from Medicare, physicians don’t. After adjusting for inflation, physician pay actually fell by 26% since 2001.
Doctors have worked to save lives and continue to meet patients’ chronic care needs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and have persevered through the ensuring burnout. They also have seen the costs of running a medical practice soar even as Medicare payment updates have offered little to no relief.
Nonpartisan experts are recognizing the unsustainability of the Medicare physician payment system. This spring, for the first time, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission recommended a physician payment update tied to the MEI. And in their March report, the Medicare Trustees said they “expect access to Medicare-participating physicians to become a significant issue in the long term” unless Congress takes steps to bolster the payment system.
Learn more: Find out how you can take part in the fight to reform Medicare on behalf of your patients and practices at the AMA's Fix Medicare Now website.
To help physician advocates and lawmakers get a stronger grasp on the complicated terrain of Medicare physician payment reform, the AMA's Medicare Basics series provides an in-depth, straightforward look at key elements of the payment system and why they are in need of reform.