The California Medical Association (CMA) applauds the bipartisan introduction of the “Supporting Medicare Providers Act of 2022” (HR 8800) by physician Congressmen Ami Bera, M.D., (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN). Due to a confluence of statutory and budget neutrality payment cuts, physicians face more than 8.42% in Medicare payment cuts in 2021. This bill would stop 4.42% of the cuts related to budget neutrality adjustments in the Medicare Fee Schedule.
“CMA appreciates Congressmen Bera and Bucshon for taking action to stabilize the Medicare program for physicians and patients. By preventing the harmful 2023 payment cuts, this important legislation will shore-up physician practices still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and protect patient access to physician care, particularly in underserved communities,” said CMA President Robert E. Wailes, M.D. The bill also includes an essential commitment to long-term Medicare payment reform to help physicians move to value-based care models to safeguard timely access to care and improve health equity.
Since 2001, inflation has increased by 40%, yet physician Medicare payments have only increased by 7%, according to the Medicare Trustees Report data. While hospital and nursing home payments are indexed to inflation (and as a result have increased by 60% since 2001), the broken physician payment system no longer covers physician costs to provide care and operate a medical practice.
Physicians can no longer sustain their practices and access to care for patients on today’s Medicare payments.
In a recent CMA survey, 76% of California physicians reported that Medicare no longer covers their costs to provide care. A majority of California physicians are nearing retirement – 34% are over age 60 and 50% are over age 50 –and many are citing inadequate Medicare payments as a primary reason they plan to retire early. CMA survey data also found that 41% of physicians say they are considering closing their practices to new Medicare patients. In several urban California communities, there are NO primary care physicians accepting new Medicare patients. And 82% of physicians say they are seeing patients with more complex medical conditions because care has been delayed due to reduced access to physicians.
California patients are facing serious access to care challenges and California is projected to have one of the largest physician shortages in the nation over the next decade. Congress must reverse these trends to help patients get the care they need.
CMA urges Members of Congress to cosponsor the “Supporting Medicare Provider Act of 2022.”