CHICAGO — The American Medical Association (AMA) warned (PDF) congressional leaders that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) report sent to Congress today contains flawed analyses that would imperil patient access to high-quality care.

The MedPAC report recommended a continuation of the freeze in Medicare physician fee payments but ignores a host of trailing indicators, none more obvious than the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physician practices. In 2020, there was a $13.9 billion decrease in Medicare physician fee schedule spending as patients delayed treatments. Burnout, stress, workload, and fear of COVID Infection are leading one in five physicians to consider leaving their current practice within two years.

The letter to Congress includes a chart—based on an analysis of data from the Medicare Trustees—that shows Medicare physician payment has been reduced 20 percent, adjusted for inflation, from 2001–2021. That analysis does not include the recent inflationary spike. Also, the Medicare physician payment system lacks an adequate annual physician payment update similar to other Medicare providers.

In its letter, the AMA emphasized the urgency for Congress to “work with the physician community to develop solutions to the systematic problems with the Medicare physician payment system and preserve patient access to care. At a minimum, Congress must establish a stable, annual Medicare physician payment update that keeps pace with inflation and practice costs and allows for innovation to ensure Medicare patients continue to have access to physician practice-based care.”

The letter is here (PDF).

Media Contact:

Jack Deutsch

ph: (202) 789-7442

[email protected]

About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.