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Neurosurgery Endorses Legislation to Improve Medicare Payment System

On April 3, 2023, bipartisan legislation to improve the Medicare physician payment system was introduced. Sponsored by Raul Ruiz, MD, (D-Calif.); Larry Bucshon, MD, (R-Ind.); Ami Bera, MD, (D-Calif.) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, MD, (R-Iowa), the Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act (H.R. 2474) would put in place an annual physician payment update starting in 2024 based on the Medicare economic index (MEI). The MEI reflects increases in physician practice costs and would reverse a downward spiral of Medicare physician payments, which have failed to keep pace with inflation, jeopardizing the viability of physician practices and patients’ timely access to care.

Upon introduction, the AANS and the CNS endorsed the legislation. In a press release, Russell R. Lonser, MD, FAANS, chair of the AANS/CNS Washington Committee, stated:

Medicare physician payments have failed to keep pace with inflation, jeopardizing the viability of physician practices and patients’ timely access to care. While we are grateful that Congress has stepped in to mitigate steep Medicare cuts over the past few years, comprehensive reform of the physician payment system must be a priority for Congress this year.

Several media outlets picked up the press release, including Becker’s Spine and MedPage Today, which reiterated Dr. Lonser’s statement that neurosurgery agrees “with the Medicare trustees that access to Medicare-participating physicians will become a significant issue in the long term unless Congress takes steps to fix the payment system today.”

The AANS and the CNS also joined several coalition letters endorsing the bill, including the American Medical Association, Alliance of Specialty Medicine and a coalition of more than one million physician and allied health professional groups.

May E-News