Physician leaders balk at Medicare 4.48% physician fee cut

Physicians have voiced their frustration at Medicare's physician fee schedule final rule, released Nov. 1, which will reduce the conversion factor by 4.48 percent to $33.06 and potentially decrease access to care for the Medicare population.

Nine physician leaders react to the CMS final rule:

Jack Resneck Jr., MD. President of the American Medical Association: The Medicare payment schedule released today puts Congress on notice that a nearly 4.5 percent across-the-board reduction in payment rates is an ominous reality unless lawmakers act before Jan. 1. The rate cuts would create immediate financial instability in the Medicare physician payment system and threaten patient access to Medicare-participating physicians. The AMA will continue working with Congress to prevent this harmful outcome.

Patricia Turner, MD. CEO of the American College of Surgeons: At a bare minimum, Congress must pass H.R. 8800 [the Supporting Medicare Providers Act of 2022] to prevent these cuts whose effects would be to harm Americans most in need of care. Without Congressional action, vulnerable seniors' nationwide access to timely, high quality and essential surgical care will be negatively impacted. If allowed to go into effect, these reductions will be yet another blow to an already stressed healthcare system. The ACS has always been willing to work with Congress to find permanent solutions to this issue in the long term, but we must act now to preserve critical access for patients.

John Ratliff, MD. Washington Committee Chair of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons: Patients deserve a more stable and durable Medicare system. Though more robust solutions are needed to create that reality, this bill would be a step in the right direction.

George Williams, MD, Senior Secretary for Advocacy of the American Academy of Ophthalmology: The final rule comes amid surging medical inflation and staff retention challenges practices are experiencing across the country. As the value of Medicare physician payments continues to plummet on an inflation-adjusted basis, the cuts will further diminish the financial support which surgical practices around the country rely on at a time when they need it most.

Joseph Cleveland Jr., MD. Chair of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons Council on Health Policy and Relationships: The myriad pressures facing our country's healthcare system grow with each year, yet instead of pursuing long term-reform to stabilize the system, the annual cuts to Medicare further exacerbate the issue.

Nathalie Johnson, MD. President of the American Society of Breast Surgeons: H.R. 8800 would provide invaluable support to patients in need of life-saving surgeries that remove and substantially reduce the risk of breast cancer. As breast cancer rates continue to rise, impacting millions of women each year, preventing the cuts scheduled to take effect in the new year through H.R. 8800 is vital to help breast surgeons continue to provide women with the care they need.

Douglas Rhee, MD, President of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery: Millions of beneficiaries depend on Medicare to access sight-saving and sight-restoring procedures that are critical to improving their livelihoods and quality of life. Further cuts to reimbursement are unsustainable. Congress must act now to stop the cuts to ensure seniors continue to have access to medically necessary procedures.

Michael Champeau, MD. President of the American Society of Anesthesiologists: Congress should not allow politics to come in the way of protecting seniors from losing access to critical surgical care. Anesthesiologists stand with the surgical care community and over 1 million physicians and other healthcare professionals who support H.R. 8800 and the broader work that must be done to reform our healthcare system.

Michael Dalsing, MD. President of the Society for Vascular Surgery: Congress must urgently pass H.R. 8800 and signal to millions of patients they deserve better than an unsustainable Medicare payment system which is out-of-touch with their needs.

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