April 19, 2023, News Staff — The AAFP has swiftly thrown support behind a new bill that would fulfill a longstanding advocacy priority: using the Medicare Economic Index to anchor annual increases to the Medicare physician fee schedule's conversion factor.
“The AAFP is proud to endorse the Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act (H.R. 2474), which will help modernize Medicare physician payment, protect beneficiaries’ access to care and provide oversight of health care consolidation,” said Academy President Tochi Iroku-Malize, M.D., M.P.H.
The AAFP has launched a Speak Out campaign to rally co-sponsorship for the bill. Members can use it to contact their representatives directly.
The MEI measures changes in the market price of the inputs used to furnish physician services; the 2023 MPFS final rule set the MEI at 3.8%. The Academy has long targeted the MEI — along with a statutory budget-neutrality requirement that effectively freezes or reduces Medicare family physician pay — in its push for legislation to stabilize and strengthen compensation for family physicians treating Medicare beneficiaries. The AAFP, along with the AMA and more than 100 other medical societies, recently urged Congress again to enact positive, MEI-baselined annual updates to Medicare physician pay to help offset rising practice costs. The groups noted that Medicare physician payment has gone down some 20% over the past two decades when adjusted for inflation, according to an AMA analysis of Medicare Trustees report data.
H.R. 2474 would ensure annual inflation-based updates to physician pay, consistent with Medicare compensation for other clinicians. Though Congress enacted a temporary 1.25% increase in the conversion factor for 2024, federal statute sets the 2025 update at 0%. In line with the Academy’s advocacy, passage of the bill would help prevent future conversion factor dips and halt a freeze to Medicare physician payment rates now set to last until 2026.