Medicare has released its final 2022 physician fee schedule, cementing a series of mandated pay cuts totaling nearly 10% for Medicare-participating physicians, unless Congress votes to reverse them before the end of the year.
The Texas Medical Association vociferously opposes the reductions, which could further constrain access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent TMA member survey showed 62% of Texas physicians may be forced to stop seeing any new Medicare patients if the cuts are enacted Jan. 1 as scheduled.
“TMA will continue our effort to stop these cuts,” said Robert Bennett, vice president of medical economics. “But we don’t have much time left.”
The final regulation weighs in at a hefty 2,414 pages. TMA staff continue to review the document, and a comprehensive analysis is forthcoming.
However, some bright spots that align with TMA’s recent advocacy have already emerged.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) did not include a proposed requirement that physicians retain patient health information indefinitely, which TMA said would be infeasible in a Sept. 13 comment letter to the agency.
Also as TMA requested, CMS finalized its proposals to retain all services added to the Medicare telehealth services list through 2023 and to continue allowing audio-only telehealth visits for the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of mental health disorders, if certain conditions are met.
Additionally, the agency will delay the payment penalty phase of Medicare’s appropriate use criteria program until at least 2023 and grant accountable care organizations participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program more time to prepare for reporting quality measures.
Although it remains to be seen whether Congress will intervene to avert the cuts, two physician U.S. House members recently galvanized support for doing so.
Reps. Ami Bera, MD (D-Calif.), and Larry Bucshon, MD (R-Ind.), echoed TMA’s concerns about the cuts in a recent letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). More than 245 other House members co-signed the letter, including the two Texas physicians in Congress: Reps. Michael C. Burgess, MD (R-Lewisville), and Ronny L. Jackson, MD (R-Amarillo).
Help stop the payment reductions by downloading TMA’s latest advocacy toolkit, Medicare Cuts: Insult Upon Injury, complete with background information on the issue, social media posts, and advocacy messages you can readily use to share your concerns with lawmakers and others.