• 2024 Proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Reaffirms Need for Congressional Action

    Julie Hirschhorn
    Manager, Public Relations

    July 13, 2023

    Statement attributable to:
    Tochi Iroku-Malize, MD, MPH, FAAFP, president
    American Academy of Family Physicians

    “The Medicare program plays a critical role in helping millions of people stay healthy, manage their health care needs, and access comprehensive and continuous primary care. The 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule includes proposals to strengthen primary care. However, lack of congressional action to address inadequate Medicare physician payments may undermine this progress and jeopardize timely access to care. 
    “While we appreciate that Congress enacted limited conversion factor relief for 2024, a nearly 3.4 percent reduction in the Medicare conversion factor will still result in untenable cuts for all physicians. These cuts are unacceptable and could threaten practice stability and undermine physicians’ goals of increasing access to primary care. MedPAC and the Medicare Board of Trustees share our concerns and recently recommended action to update payment rates.
    “Sweeping reform will help protect Medicare beneficiaries’ access to primary care in their own communities—but physicians can’t do this alone. First, Congress must enact an annual inflationary update to help ensure physician payment rates keep pace with rising practice costs. Second, it’s imperative for Congress to address Medicare budget-neutrality requirements. Budget neutrality requirements limit our ability to correct the long-term underinvestment in primary care instead of paying appropriately for all the services patients need. 
    “Medicare beneficiaries deserve a system that enables primary care physicians to invest in the tools, technology and people required meet their patients’ unique health needs. These investments are essential to advancing the transition to value-based payment models, which better support access to and delivery of the primary care services patients benefit from most. Yet, outdated Medicare payment rates prevent practices from investing in the resources they need to shift to value-based payment—threatening value-based care and exacerbating our nation’s underinvestment in primary care. 
    “While congressional action is needed to address these challenges, updated coding and payment regulations that advance primary care and behavioral health integration are a meaningful step forward. Family physicians appreciate CMS’s actions to better account for important services we provide to keep our patients healthy between office visits.
    “Modernizing Medicare payment rates will help transform our health care system, combat consolidation and meet the needs of a growing and aging population. The AAFP calls on Congress to end unsustainable physician payment cuts and work with CMS and the physician community to invest in community-based primary care.”
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    About American Academy of Family Physicians
    Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 130,000 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.