Washington E-Newsletter

Efforts to Fix Broken Medicare Physician Payment System Continue

The AANS and the CNS continue their efforts to fix the broken Medicare physician payment system. On May 25, the AANS and the CNS endorsed principles for reforming the Medicare physician payment system. Developed in collaboration with the American Medical Association and 120 state and national medical societies, the “Characteristics of a Rational Medicare Payment System” document outlines a unified set of shared goals for improving the current system.

Subsequently, the AANS and the CNS issued a press release announcing support for these unified goals. “The current Medicare physician payment system is on life support and needs an overhaul. We are grateful that Congress has stepped in to mitigate steep cuts over the past few years, but comprehensive reform to reflect practice costs and inflation is needed,” stated John K. Ratliff, MD, FAANS, chair of the AANS/CNS Washington Committee.

The AANS and the CNS continue to lead several coalition efforts — including the Surgical Care Coalition (SCC) — to prevent steep Medicare payment cuts and preserve patient access to care. The SCC officially launched year three of its campaign to stop these cuts and implement changes to the physician payment system. After successfully protecting patients’ timely access to quality surgical care in 2020 and 2021 by securing Congressional action to mitigate proposed cuts to Medicare, the SCC has begun to fight against similar cuts proposed for 2023.

Finally, working with a broad coalition of physicians and other health professionals, the AANS and CNS helped spearhead a letter to key congressional committee leaders urging them to take legislative action to avoid an expected 8.5% cut to physician payments in the Medicare program. The recently proposed calendar year 2023 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) rule included a reduction in the Medicare conversion factor of approximately 4.5%. Additionally, a required statutory pay-as-you-go cut of 4% is slated to go into effect on Jan. 1. The letter urged Congress to act, pointing out that the year-over-year cuts demonstrate that the Medicare physician payment system is broken. The groups also welcomed the opportunity to work with Congress to “establish a pathway for identifying policy solutions that will ensure long-term stability for the MPFS.”

The AANS and CNS are working on developing legislation that would prevent these fee schedule cuts, provide physicians with an inflationary update in 2023 and set the stage for long-term reform of the Medicare physician payment system.