Physician answers on this survey will shape future Medicare pay

Kevin B. O'Reilly , News Editor

AMA News Wire

Physician answers on this survey will shape future Medicare pay

Dec 2, 2023

Thousands of U.S. physicians are getting a short patient-care hours survey from either their practice directly or from Mathematica. The input from physician practices and individual physicians randomly selected to participate in this study, launched in July, is critical for its success. Participation will ensure that practice expenses and patient-care hours are accurately reflected.

Speak up for Medicare reform

The need for Medicare physician payment reform has never been greater. The AMA shows how the current system is unsustainable—and how you can urge Congress to support solutions.

The national study is being undertaken by the AMA, supported by 173 health care organizations (PDF), to collect representative data on physician practice expenses. The aim of this Physician Practice Information (PPI) Survey (PDF) is to better understand the costs faced by today’s physician practices to support physician payment reform. The study will rely on financial experts in physician practices to complete the online financial information survey, but doctors’ input on their patient-care hours is equally essential. Physicians should complete the survey and urge their practices to do the same.

Practices are being contacted by mail and email.

The subject line for the PPI Survey invitation email will read, “The American Medical Association requests your input to update Medicare physician payment.” The subject line for the Physician Hours Survey invitation email will read, “Please help to update accurate physician payments.” The subject lines of reminder emails will vary slightly.

Invitations and reminders about the PPI Survey, sent to financial experts in the practice, will come from [email protected]. Invitations and reminders about the Physician Hours Survey, distributed to physicians, will come from [email protected] or from the practice directly. If you have any questions related to the survey, email Sherry Smith, the AMA’s director of physician payment policy and systems.

Learn about how you can take part in the fight to fix Medicare on behalf of your patients and practices at the AMA's Fix Medicare Now website.

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.

We need your help

Become a member and help the AMA fight to protect physician payment and patients’ access to care.

Give policymakers up-to-date info

The study gives physicians and practices a chance to communicate accurate financial information to policymakers, including members of Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The AMA has contracted with Mathematica, an independent research company with extensive experience in survey methods as well as health care delivery and finance reform, to conduct the study.

After accounting for inflation in practice costs, Medicare physician payment declined (PDF) 26% from 2001 to 2023.

The Medicare physician payment schedule, which is used by many other payers, relies on 2006 cost information to develop practice expense relative values, the Medicare Economic Index and resulting physician payments. Given that the U.S. economy and health care system have undergone substantial changes since that time, including inflation and the widespread adoption of EHRs and other IT systems, practice-expense payments no longer accurately reflect the relative resources that are typically required to provide physician services.

The survey is collecting the data needed to calculate practice expenses per hour of patient care by physician specialty.

The AMA has declared Medicare physician payment reform to be an urgent advocacy and legislative priority.

The AMA Medicare Basics series provides an in-depth look at important aspects of the Medicare physician payment system. Through straightforward explanations, policymakers and physician advocates can learn about key elements of the payment system and why they are in need of reform.  

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.