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Congress Urged to Prevent Medicare Cuts and Maintain Seniors' Access to Physicians

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Ethan Sulliva
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Congress Urged to Prevent Medicare Cuts and Maintain Seniors' Access to Physicians

Congress Urged to Prevent Medicare Cuts and Maintain Seniors' Access to Physicians

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There is an urgent call to Congress to prevent looming cuts to physician payments, maintain seniors' access to physicians, and ensure nationwide Medicare access. This call is coming from multiple quarters, notably physician groups and major health organizations, in a bid to prevent a potentially damaging impact on healthcare in the United States.

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Physician Groups Press Congress on Pay Cuts

Leading physician groups, including the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) and the American Medical Association (AMA), have been vocally urging Congress to address an impending pay cut for radiologists and other specialties. This pay cut is scheduled to take effect when lawmakers reconvene in early 2024. In a plea to the leaders of both chambers, the MGMA cited the Preserving Seniors' Access to Physicians Act as a potential solution.

The MGMA’s case is based on their survey of 517 practices where providers indicated that they might consider accepting fewer new Medicare patients, reducing charity care, cutting clinical staff, and closing satellite locations if the cut goes through. This paints a bleak picture of the potential impact of these cuts on healthcare services, particularly for seniors.

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AMA Criticizes Inaction on Medicare Physician Fee Schedule

The AMA has been particularly critical of Congress and the Biden administration for their failure to boost physician pay and eliminate the impending 3.37% cut to physician payments in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. The bipartisan 'Preserving Seniors’ Access to Physicians Act of 2023' has been proposed as a means to eliminate this cut. The FY 2024 National Defense Authorization bill also includes a provision for $2.2 billion in sequester cuts for physicians in a Medicare Improvement Fund.

Emphasizing the urgency of the situation, the AMA is urging lawmakers to take swift action to avert the 3.37% cut, prevent further reductions in Medicare payments, and ensure access to Medicare across the country.

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Efforts to Reform the Medicare Physician Payment System

It is not all gloom and doom, however. Efforts to reform the Medicare physician payment system are ongoing, with bipartisan legislative fixes being introduced and advanced through Congress. This legislation includes establishing an automatic inflation update for physicians and reforming Medicare's budget neutrality rules.

Several bills have been considered and advanced by different committees to mitigate physician payment cuts and extend alternative payment model bonuses. Organizations like the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) have been actively participating in advocacy efforts to prevent Medicare cuts and adopt longer-term reforms.

Finally, while the threat of Medicare cuts looms, there is a concerted effort from various stakeholders to ensure that such cuts do not come to fruition. The hope is that Congress will heed these calls and act in the best interest of the American healthcare system and the millions of seniors who depend on it.

Senior Health Healthcare
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