AAFP Targets Comprehensive Medicare Payment Reform
Public Relations Strategist
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Academy of Family Physicians joined health organizations representing over 1 million clinicians in urging the new Congress to act on comprehensive Medicare payment reform this year—protecting lifesaving and life-changing care for our nation’s most vulnerable patients.
From physician burnout to workforce shortages to a “tripledemic,” the physician community faces a myriad of obstacles in providing timely access to care for Medicare beneficiaries. Today’s letter is the latest in a series of communication to Congress calling for urgent action to improve Medicare physician payment, including holding hearings and collaborating with stakeholders like the AAFP to pass legislation to make Medicare physician payment more sustainable.
“A cornerstone of the AAFP’s advocacy efforts in 2023 will be calling for an inflationary update and eliminating the annual threat of Medicare cuts,” said R. Shawn Martin, executive vice president and CEO, AAFP. “While we have made progress, reforms are urgently needed to support family physicians, their patients, and communities, and facilitate large-scale transition to value-based care.”
The AAFP and other physician groups recently expressed disappointment that the end-of-year omnibus package failed to fully address outdated Medicare payment policies, as well as the statutory budget neutrality requirements that can prevent Medicare from investing in primary care. According to an American Medical Association analysis of Medicare Trustees data, when adjusted for inflation, Medicare payments to clinicians have declined by 22% in the last 20 years.
Experts agree the U.S. must move toward a more equitable Medicare payment system that will foster a robust physician workforce. This month, Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (MedPAC) commissioners unanimously voted to recommend that Congress update Medicare physician payments to account for rising practice expenses and address disparities affecting low-income Medicaid beneficiaries.
“Medicare physician payment hasn’t kept pace with rising practice expenses. On top of that, physicians still face an unacceptable 2% reduction in the Medicare conversion factor this year,” said AAFP President Tochi Iroku-Malize, MD, MPH, FAAFP. “ Congress will find they have an ally in family physicians when enacting meaningful legislation that will ensure patients can get the care they need and deserve.”
The AAFP’s welcome letter to new and re-elected members of the 118th Congress emphasized the need to reform Medicare physician payment to avoid the need for further stopgap measures, protect beneficiaries’ access to care, and slow the alarming rate of health care consolidation.
About American Academy of Family Physicians
Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 129,600 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care. To learn more about the specialty of family medicine and the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, visit www.aafp.org. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s consumer website, www.familydoctor.org.