- A powerful group that advises Congress on Medicare policy is not recommending any payment increase for physicians under the Medicare program for 2023, according to its annual March report.
- The American Medical Association is frustrated by the lack of a payment bump amid continued pandemic related pressures. AMA aired its concerns in a letter to Congressional leaders dated Tuesday and said it was "deeply concerned" by the report from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. The group urged leaders to intervene.
- "At a minimum, Congress must establish a stable, annual Medicare physician payment update that keeps pace with inflation and practice costs," AMA wrote in its letter.
Based on an analysis of the healthcare environment, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, MedPAC commissioners found physician payments were "adequate."
The report shows that Medicare payments to physicians fell in 2020 as fewer patients came in for care due to the pandemic. However, the report points out that federal relief funds helped to offset those declines.
This pandemic relief "accelerated the growth of national spending on clinician services, with spending on these services (by all sources, not just Medicare) growing by 5.4 percent in 2020 (up from 4.2 percent growth in 2019)," MedPAC wrote.
According to MedPAC, spending on physician compensation continues to rise — even as Medicare spending on clinician services declined in 2020. The median physician compensation across all payers and specialties increased 1% in 2020, according to MedPAC.
Although physicians have faced operating pressures brought on by the pandemic, "we expect volume and revenue to rebound to prepandemic levels (or higher) by 2023," the report said.
For these reasons, MedPAC did not recommend any payment increases for clinician services under Medicare for 2023.
AMA said the current recommendation from the advisory group would "imperil patient access to high-quality care as the costs to practice medicine continue to rise," according to the letter sent to Congress.