FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
Statement attributable to:
Sterling N. Ransone, Jr., MD, FAAFP
American Academy of Family Physicians
“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) final rule includes several provisions that will facilitate access to comprehensive primary care services and support family medicine practices. The American Academy of Family Physicians is pleased CMS has increased physician payments for vaccine administration and chronic care management, is implementing a long overdue update to clinical labor pricing and is recognizing the importance of telehealth services beyond the public health emergency (PHE).
“For decades, our primary care system has been strained, underfunded, and understaffed—COVID-19 has only exacerbated these challenges. We’re pleased CMS has acknowledged this historic undervaluation and is again taking steps to address it by increasing payment rates for vaccine administration and chronic care management services. This will facilitate Medicare beneficiaries’ access to recommended vaccines and care management services and enable family medicine practices to continue providing these high-value services.
“The AAFP was also pleased to see that CMS is modernizing clinical labor pricing, which has not been updated since 2002. This critical update will enable physician practices to hire and retain nurses, medical assistants, and other integral members of the care team as it is phased in.
“We are encouraged that this final rule will ensure permanent coverage of tele-mental health services in beneficiaries’ homes after the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. These services have been a lifeline for many beneficiaries during the pandemic. The AAFP looks forward to working with Congress and the administration to ensure ongoing coverage and fair payment of comprehensive primary care services via telehealth, including audio-only visits, after the end of the PHE.
“While these are positive steps forward, Congress must also act to mitigate looming Medicare cuts that harm physician practices by increasing the 2022 conversion factor.
“The AAFP is supportive of efforts to improve the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) over the next several years, and we look forward to partnering with CMS to reduce the burden of reporting on family physicians. However, as the pandemic continues, we continue to urge CMS to ensure physicians are not unfairly penalized and can focus on patient care by automatically applying the extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy for performance year 2021.
“On behalf of the family physicians we represent, the AAFP appreciates CMS’ efforts to support primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic and for years to come. We stand ready to partner with CMS to design and implement policies to advance our shared goals of improving access to quality, affordable health care for all through the MPFS and by facilitating the transition to value-based care.”
Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Ransone, contact Julie Hirschhorn, 202-655-4949, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.