'This is a slap in the face to physicians': Reactions to CMS' pay cut proposal

Physicians and patients alike may face challenges due to CMS' suggested 3.34 percent conversion factor decrease from its proposed Medicare physician fee schedule for 2024.

Physicians have been connecting with Becker's to discuss the proposal. Here are the two most recent opinions received by Becker's.

Note: These responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Sri Sundaram, MD. Cardiologist at South Denver Cardiology: This is a slap in the face to physicians. During COVID-19, physicians, and all healthcare workers, were expected to spend more time taking care of patients and putting their own lives at risk before the vaccine was available. The recognition we're given is a decrease in pay. Rather than understanding the amount of dedication, work and effort it took to take care of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS has decided to cut positions and pay further.

There is already a physician shortage in the United States. This is easily gonna make this worse. Why would anyone want to go into medicine knowing they're gonna make decreased pay, despite having to work long hours and place their own personal health in jeopardy?

Douglas Wilson, MD. Family Physician at Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics (Goleta, Calif.): Because patients' access to primary care is catastrophically impaired in many regions, it's not sufficient for us to simply avoid cuts to primary care providers. Better reimbursement is needed. Unfortunately, many health systems depend on cash flow from higher-paying services and have built substantial infrastructure to leverage this model. While the more responsible organizations will continue to utilize resources from high-margin services to cross-subsidize primary care initiatives, they will still generally resist changing the formula because a dramatic change would require major strategic realignment towards provision of more comprehensive and preventive care. Until this fundamental shift occurs, patients will continue to lose.

Other physicians have voiced similar concerns. 

Arunab Mehta, MD, assistant professor of clinical in the department of internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati told Becker's, "For the field of medicine, with payments coming down over the years, the field of medicine will become a less attractive option for the population in general, and the American population will suffer by not getting the most qualified individuals in the population going into the field of medicine as they do now. Those individuals will likely pursue other fields that tend to be more lucrative."

"These cuts are even more discouraging after physicians and healthcare professionals have spent more than two years continuing to provide patient care during a global pandemic," Taif Mukhdomi, MD, interventional pain physician at Pain Zero in Columbus, Ohio, told Beckers. "It seems as though physicians are routinely facing compensation cuts, as if to say physician reimbursements are the reason why healthcare costs continue to rise."

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