Internal Medicine Physicians Say Congress’ Approach to Medicare Payments Falls Short of Protecting Access

WASHINGTON December 20, 2022 – The American College of Physicians (ACP) believes that the partial restoration of Medicare physician payments that is contained in the end-of-year congressional spending bill falls short of what is needed to protect patients and physicians. Physicians and their practices have been faced with decades of flat payments, in addition to being under inordinate strain during the past three years while our country has been dealing with the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Challenged by increased practice expenses and high inflation rates, as well as staffing and medical supply shortages, physicians’ practices are struggling to keep their doors open and continue to care for the patients who need them. To be faced with a cut, even if Congress did reduce the size of that cut, may be the tipping point for many physicians ultimately limiting access to care for Medicare patients.

Despite our strong disappointment for the legislation falling short on supporting physicians’ ability to care for their patients, the spending bill that was released today contains several provisions that will benefit the health of Americans, as well as physicians and the rest of the health care community. The legislation extends flexibilities for telehealth services, that have been demonstrated to improve access to care, for two years. It lowers barriers to prescribing treatments for opioid use disorder. It extends post-partum Medicaid coverage in states that have not already done so and furnishes funding for the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation increases funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and Primary Care Training and Enhancement. It also continues funding for federal research into firearm injury and mortality prevention and for the Children's Health Insurance Program; and increases funding for behavioral and maternal health. However, ACP is disappointed to see that the bill will allow states to begin removing patients who have gained health insurance coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic from their Medicaid programs in April, regardless of the status of the public health emergency. We are further disappointed that it does not include any of the funding we need to help our country in the continued fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

We remain deeply concerned by the harm that will come from the two percent cut physicians will see on Jan. 1, which comes after two decades without an increase in payments, while inflation continues to be high. Therefore, ACP calls on Congress to immediately take on comprehensive Medicare physician payment reform to provide stability for physicians and ensure access to care for their patients. Our nation’s seniors and our physicians deserve better.

About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 160,000 internal medicine physicians, related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Contact:  Jacquelyn Blaser, (202) 261-4572,