Physicians balk at 'devastating' Medicare proposed pay cuts

Physicians are baffled by Medicare's physician fee schedule proposed rule for 2023, which would reduce the conversion factor by 4.42 percent to $33.08 and potentially decrease older adults' access to care.

Nine physician leaders react to the CMS proposal, released July 7: 

Christopher Reeder, DO. President of the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons: The past two years have demonstrated that patients need a more durable healthcare system that ensures they have access to the care they need, when they need it. CMS' proposed policies are emblematic of the need for long-term reform to the broader Medicare payments system.

Doug Rhee, MD. President of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery: Annual cuts to reimbursement for surgical care imperils access for seniors to medically necessary and sight-saving and sight-restoring therapies. 2.3 million Americans last year alone depended on Medicare to receive cataract surgery. Unfortunately, CMS' proposed Medicare physician fee schedule for 2023 poses an even greater risk than in years past to patient access to these and other life-altering interventions.

George Williams, MD. Senior Secretary for Advocacy at the American Academy of Ophthalmology: The cost of running a medical practice has increased 39 percent in the past 20 years. When adjusted for inflation, the impact is a decline in value of Medicare physician payments of 28 percent. On top of jeopardizing patients' access to care, the proposed cuts further exacerbate the difficult operating environment surgical practices already face, and the people that are affected most are our patients.

Jack Resneck Jr., MD. President of the American Medical Association: It is immediately apparent that the rule not only fails to account for inflation in practice costs and COVID-related challenges to practice sustainability, but also includes a significant and damaging across-the-board reduction in payment rates. Such a move would create long-term financial instability in the Medicare physician payment system and threaten patient access to Medicare-participating physicians. We will be working with Congress to prevent this harmful outcome.

John Ratliff, MD. Washington Committee Chair of the American Association of Neurological Surgeon/Congress of Neurological Surgeons: Once again, we are facing another year of devastating cuts to a Medicare system that is already ill-equipped to meet the needs of millions of Americans. The Surgical Care Coalition stands ready to urge Congress to not only stabilize payment levels in the short-term but also transform the system into one that is stable and reliable in the long term.

Joseph Cleveland Jr., MD. Chair of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Council on Health Policy and Relationships: The current Medicare physician fee schedule is broken. It fails to incentivize collaboration and pits doctor against doctor every year. It's crucial that Congress work to address these cuts and create a more sustainable payment system. Failure to do so presents a serious risk to patients during a time of declining access to surgical care and rising prices for services and treatments.

Nathalie Johnson, MD. President of the American Society of Breast Surgeons: The proposed Medicare physician fee schedule fails to support patients in need of lifesaving surgeries that remove and substantially reduce the risk of breast cancer. As rates of breast cancer unfortunately continue to steadily rise and impact more women every year, further cuts will reduce surgeons' ability to provide patients with the care they need.

Patricia Turner, MD. Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons: Year after year, CMS proposes cuts which put access to critical procedures at risk for millions of patients — often the very patients who are most in need of care. Today's proposed rule underscores the continued disinvestment in patient care, and the Surgical Care Coalition urges Congress to immediately stop these cuts to protect patients and work toward finding a long-term solution that promotes quality care and investment.

Randall Clark, MD. President of the American Society of Anesthesiologists: Anesthesiologists, who play a critical and unique role on surgical teams, are facing an unacceptable cut under the proposed fee schedule. The need for a more sustainable payments system has never been more evident, and ASA is ready to fight alongside the Surgical Care Coalition to prevent these cuts from taking effect.

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