As 10% physician pay cuts loom, AMA urges Congressional action

The American Medical Association is sounding the alarm on upcoming pay cuts for physician practices and Congress' alleged indifference about the reimbursement changes. 

The AMA pointed out that physician practices are expected to face a 9.75 percent pay cut Jan. 1. The pay cut will stem from several sources, including resumption of a 2 percent Medicare sequester, imposition of a 4 percent statutory PAYGO sequester, expiration of a 3.75 percent temporary increase in the physician reimbursement and a freeze in annual Medicare provider fee schedule updates. 

Additionally, providers may face higher penalties under the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, as it will increase to 9 percent in 2022.

The AMA argues that these pay cuts come at a time when physician practices' resources are stretched thin from the ongoing pandemic recovery. 

"All this financial uncertainty comes at a time when physician practices are still recovering from the financial impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency, including continued infection control protocols that, while necessary, have increased the costs of providing care," the AMA wrote in its letter to Congress. "The combination of all these policies would be challenging to endure in normal times. Yet, physician practices continue to be stretched to their limits clinically, emotionally, and financially as the pandemic persists well beyond 15 months."

The AMA also said Congress seems "indifferent" to the pay cuts. 

The association is asking Congress to pass legislation to prevent the steep pay cuts and hold hearings to permanently improve the Medicare physician payment system.

"The state of the program is increasingly dysfunctional and, ultimately, it will be patients who suffer," the AMA said.  

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