LUGPA Policy Alert: Congress Considers Proposal to Mitigate Medicare Physician Payment Cuts

LUGPA is pleased to share that our efforts, alongside our colleagues in the physician community, helped convince Congress to mitigate about half of the 3.4% payment cut of this year’s cut to the PFS conversion factor in the recently introduced Consolidated Appropriations Act. Specifically, the bill eliminates 1.68% of the 3.34% cut effective in March, which is more than the bipartisan committee negotiations considered just a few months ago. 

The 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) final rule, issued by CMS on November 2nd, delivered concerning news to independent healthcare providers: a 3.34 percent decrease in the fee schedule's conversion factor, crucial in determining Medicare service reimbursements. This reduction directly translates to lower payments for physicians offering specific Medicare services.

LUGPA, alongside other influential medical organizations actively collaborated to advocate for such measures. Our efforts have included directly engaging lawmakers and their staff through fly-ins and letter campaigns urging support for MPFS reform.

In February, LUGPA launched a congressional advocacy effort to address recent Medicare payment cuts. We focused on a bipartisan letter to Senate leaders Schumer and McConnell. The letter urgently emphasized the impact of these cuts on healthcare providers' ability to serve patients, especially Medicare beneficiaries, and highlighted the physician shortage in the U.S.

It identified shortcomings in the Medicare payment system contributing to the shortage, citing rising practice costs, workforce deficits, and pandemic-related financial challenges. The letter warned of disproportionate effects on smaller practices, especially in rural and underserved areas, and called for immediate collaboration to reform MACRA.

Additionally, it urged Congress to stabilize Medicare payments to support providers caring for Medicare patients. The letter expressed gratitude for attention to the issue and a commitment to collaborative solutions.

In addition, the Act extends the  geographic practice cost index (GPCI) floor of 1.0, eliminating the additional reimbursement cuts that some rural providers would have seen otherwise. The GPCI is utilized in conjunction with Relative Value Units by Medicare to calculate payment amounts for medical procedures.

LUGPA remains steadfast in its dedication to advocating for the interests of its members and guaranteeing access to quality care for all patients, particularly Medicare beneficiaries. We will continue to follow this issue closely and work with lawmakers on longer-term physician payment reform. We will keep LUGPA members informed of any new developments as they emerge.