LUGPA Policy Update: The Preserving Seniors’ Access to Physicians Act of 2023

Dec. 21, 2023

LUGPA has been a steadfast advocate of Medicare physician reimbursement reform, educating lawmakers about the adverse effects of prolonged Medicare reimbursement cuts on physician practices. These reductions may lead to layoffs, service reductions, and, in extreme cases, the closure of physician offices. This situation is particularly critical amid a physician shortage and a growing number of physicians nearing retirement, further straining our healthcare system.

In November, the 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule final rule implemented a 3.37 percent cut in the conversion factor, impacting Medicare payments to physicians. This reduction, deemed necessary by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to offset payment increases for specific services, including primary and longitudinal care visits, closely aligns with the earlier summer proposal. It will significantly affect payments to providers nationwide for services rendered to Medicare patients.

The proposed cut is compounded by a projected 4.6 percent increase in practice cost expenses, potentially resulting in an 8 percent reduction for physicians. This is not a new trend. The American Medical Association has reported a 26 percent decline in Medicare physician payments when adjusted for inflation from 2001 to 2023. These consistent reimbursement cuts may have far-reaching implications on the healthcare system, especially in rural and underserved communities, jeopardizing the ability to serve new Medicare patients.

In response to these challenges, Representative Greg Murphy, R-N.C., has spearheaded a bipartisan effort to prevent the cuts, introducing the "Preserving Seniors’ Access to Physicians Act of 2023” (H.R.6683). The bill aims to rewrite sections of the Social Security Act to prevent the 3.37 percent cut scheduled for January 1.

LUGPA urges Congress to provide stable payment updates for physicians aligned with healthcare practice costs, maintaining its commitment to advocating for fair and stable reimbursement policies. The potential consequences of continuous Medicare reimbursement cuts are extensive, impacting not only physicians but also the overall health of our healthcare system.

Additionally, LUGPA calls for the creation of a new method of determining reimbursement. One positive sign that Medicare may be ready to reform the reimbursement system is the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's (MedPAC) recent recommendation to tie physician payment updates to the Medicare Economic Index for the first time.

For additional information on the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Payment Cuts, please visit LUGPA’s resource page here.