December 11, 2023
With physicians facing yet another looming Medicare payment cut, the California Medical Association (CMA) is urging physicians to contact their members of Congress and tell them time is running out and inaction is not an option.
Due to budget neutrality rules, the 2024 Medicare physician fee schedule includes a 3.37% payment cut that will take effect unless Congress acts to stop the cut. With an expected 4.6% rise in health care inflation this year, the net impact on physician payments will be an 8% decrease in 2024, which will be devastating for physician practices and patient access to care in California.
Last week, bipartisan legislation was introduced that will stop the 3.37% Medicare physician payment cut set to take effect on January 1, 2024. H.R. 6683 – 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.
Contact your members of Congress today and urge them to fix the flawed Medicare physician payment system by supporting H.R. 6683 and to include the Medicare payment fix in the upcoming 2024 appropriations package. Because Congress passed a continuing resolution last month that temporarily funds government programs through January 19, 2024, the next opportunity to stop the cuts will be as part of the 2024 appropriations package that congress must act on by January 19 to avoid a government shutdown.
The looming 3.37% reduction comes after three years of consecutive cuts to Medicare physician payments. If Congress does not act now, Medicare payments will have been cut by almost 10% in four years, which is simply unsustainable for our nation's physicians.
To make matters worse, physicians are the only Medicare providers whose payments do not automatically receive an annual inflationary update, which means we will not receive a 4.6% update in 2024 like other health care providers. Because of this major flaw in the payment system, Medicare physician payments have lagged 26% behind the rate of inflation since 2001.
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.
Take Action: Congress needs to act NOW – tell your legislators cancel the cut!