December 08, 2023
The California Medical Association (CMA) applauds the introduction of bipartisan legislation that, if passed, will stop the entire 3.37% Medicare physician payment cut set to take effect on January 1, 2024.
The “Preserving Seniors’ Access to Physicians Act of 2023” by Congressional Representatives Gregory Murphy, M.D. (R-NC), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), and Danny Davis (D-IL) would stabilize physician practices and protect patient access to care. CMA commends this bipartisan effort by the bill’s cosponsors to ensure that this legislation is a top priority when Congressional leaders negotiate the final package of bills for the Continuing Resolution to keep the government operating. We thank California Congressman Panetta for his leadership on this bill and urge all California Members of Congress to immediately cosponsor this vital legislation.
Combined with an expected 4.6% rise in Medicare practice cost inflation in 2024, the proposed 3.37% payment cut would cause physicians to experience an 8% payment cut in real terms unless Congress intervenes. Last year, physicians were the only Medicare providers to take a payment cut. Compared to all other Medicare providers who have received 60% rate increases since 2001, physician payment has been stagnant.
"We must end these Medicare payment cuts once and for all and enact long-term Medicare payment reform to protect our patients and fulfill the promise of Medicare to the nation’s seniors," said CMA President Tanya W. Spirtos, M.D. "If these cuts take effect, more physicians will be forced to retire early, or limit the number of Medicare patients they can accept – creating longer wait times for patients to get the care they need. 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. Reform is long overdue."
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 lack of access to care 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 could be forced to limit their Medicare patient load and nearly half of the physician respondents said they are considering retiring early if the cuts went into effect.