Statement attributed to:

Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH

President, American Medical Association

“While we appreciate the challenges Congress confronted when drafting the current 2024 appropriations package, we are extremely disappointed that about half of the 2024 Medicare physician payment cuts will be allowed to continue. There were many opportunities and widespread support to block the 3.37 percent Medicare cuts for physician services that took place Jan. 1, but in the end Congress opted to reverse only 1.68 of the 3.37 percentage payment reduction required by the Medicare Fee Schedule. The need to stop the annual cycle of pay cuts and patches and enact permanent Medicare payment reforms could not be more clear. 

“Because of Congress’ failure to reverse these cuts, millions of seniors, like my parents, will find it more difficult to access high quality care and physicians will find it more difficult to accept new Medicare patients. This will become noticeable first in rural and underserved areas and with small, independent physician practices. Physicians are the only providers who do not receive automatic inflation updates to their Medicare payments, and they are the only group experiencing a payment cut this year despite high inflation. Adjusted for inflation in practice costs, Medicare physician pay declined 30 percent from 2001.

“As physicians, we are trained to run toward emergencies. We urge Congress to do the same. We encourage Congress to act if this policy decision is an emergency because—in fact—it is. It is well past time to put an end to stopgap measures that fail to address the underlying causes of the continuing decline in Medicare physician payments.  In the coming months, Congress must turn its attention to Medicare reform. The AMA has been studying this issue and is eager to share solid policy proposals and a deep conviction that the current path is unsustainable.”

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