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Congress Passes Legislation to Partially Mitigate the 3.4% Medicare Physician Payment Cut

Congress Passes Legislation to Partially Mitigate the 3.4% Medicare Physician Payment Cut

Last week, in a federal budget deal struck to avoid a government shutdown, Congress passed legislation to reduce the 3.4% Medicare physician payment cut by 1.68%. The new payment is not retroactive, and it goes into effect on March 9, 2024. The updated conversion factor has yet to be released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), but once made available Academy staff will share that information.

The partial mitigation of the Medicare payment cut comes after significant advocacy including grassroots, lobbying, and several letters to Congressional Leadership. The Academy and the house of medicine has made it clear that physicians are struggling to maintain access to care for the Medicare beneficiaries they treat. Reductions in Medicare payments, rising practice costs, workforce shortages, and financial uncertainty resulting from the pandemic, are causing some physician practices to limit the number of Medicare patients they see, or the types of services offered. These cuts are disproportionately impacting small, independent practices, like those in rural and underserved areas that continue to face significant health care access challenges.

Academy staff continues to push Congress to advance comprehensive solutions to the unsustainable Medicare physician payment system – such as H.R. 2474, the Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act. If you have not done so already, please contact your Representative to support H.R. 2474. The bipartisan bill, with 125 co-sponsors. would provide physicians with an annual, permanent inflationary update in Medicare tied to the Medicare Economic Index. Relatedly, last month a group of bipartisan Senators announced a Medicare Payment Reform Working Group.

The Academy will continue to aggressively advocate for Congress to pass legislation that creates a long-term, sustainable, and fair solution for Medicare physician reimbursement.

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