• Changes to Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Represent Step Toward Properly Valuing
    the Role of Primary Care

    Wednesday, December 2,  2020

    Statement attributable to:
    Ada D. Stewart, MD
    American Academy of Family Physicians

    “Overall, the changes to evaluation and management office visits finalized in the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule will improve care by allowing and paying for physicians to spend more time with their patients. The AAFP is gratified that CMS has confirmed plans to implement the revaluation of E/M visit codes, and the finalized add-on code for complex visits. Together, these changes ensure payment more accurately matches the inherent complexity and resources required to furnish comprehensive primary care.

    “For decades, underinvestment has strained our primary care system, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only further exacerbated things. This increased investment will strengthen our primary care system over the long run. These improvements to E/M office visits will help the tens of millions of Medicare patients who rely on primary care physicians not only for outpatient diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, but also to make up for delays in seeking preventive treatment, vaccinations, and services to manage their chronic conditions.

    “We also recognize that CMS is limited in its ability to extend telehealth flexibilities beyond the public health emergency. Telehealth has enabled family physicians to safely and effectively care for patients at home, and we look forward to working with CMS and Congress to preserve all Medicare beneficiaries’ access to telehealth that is part of comprehensive, coordinated care.

    “This final rule is a step toward properly valuing the role of primary care in our health care system. We look forward to working with CMS on designing and implementing policies that support the shared goals of improving access to high-quality, comprehensive, and coordinated care.” 

    Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Stewart, contact Megan Moriarty, 800-274-2237, Ext. 6052, or mmoriarty@aafp.org.


    Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 136,700 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, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org