Medicare spending on physician services $9.4B less than expected in first half of 2020

Last year's Medicare claims data on physician services shows that spending was 19 percent lower than projected levels during the first half of 2020, resulting in a reduction of $9.4 billion in payments to physicians, according to a report released March 3 by the American Medical Association.

The report revealed that Medicare physician spending dropped as much as 57 percent below projected pre-pandemic levels in April of 2020, improving that margin to 12 percent by the end of June.

Decreases in cumulative physician spending in the first half of 2020 varied by region, ranging from a 13 percent reduction in Oklahoma to a 27 percent reduction in New York. The biggest physician spending reductions were concentrated in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, and the smallest were in the South and Southwest, according to the report.

Cumulative physician spending decreases also varied among specialties, ranging from a 6 percent reduction for nephrology to a 29 percent reduction for ophthalmology and a 34 percent reduction for physical therapy.

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