November 20, 2023
In an urgent appeal to safeguard the nation’s Medicare program, the California Medical Association (CMA) is calling on Congress to stop the looming Medicare physician payment cuts, which if allowed to take effect would devastate physician practices and make it even more difficult for the nation's seniors to get the care they need.
“While physicians are grateful that a government shutdown was averted, CMA is disappointed that Congress has failed to stop the substantial Medicare cuts that will threaten the viability of physician practices and endanger patient access to care,” said CMA President Tanya Spirtos, M.D. “While there is broad bipartisan support to address Medicare payment reform, the political dysfunction in Congress continues to make it extremely difficult to meaningfully address long-term solutions and protect Medicare patient access to care. Physicians are the backbone of the Medicare program, and we will continue to fight to ensure that our patients have access to high-quality physician care. CMA urges Congress to stop the cuts in the January 2024 must-pass appropriations legislation.”
More than 6.5 million Californians are enrolled in Medicare and many of these seniors can no longer find a physician who is accepting new Medicare patients. Other patients are waiting longer to see a physician. This instability is coming at a time when California has growing numbers of seniors with multiple chronic conditions that require more resources. In a recent CMA survey, 70% of California physicians reported that they will be forced to limit their Medicare patient load and nearly half of the physician respondents said they would retire early if the cuts went into effect.
Physician payment has already declined by 26% over the last two decades. With an expected 4.6% rise in health care inflation this year, physician payments will decline by 8% in 2024, which will be devastating for physician practices and patient access to care in California.