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Physician Groups Urge CMS to Follow Through with Previously Finalized 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Changes

Washington, D.C. June 30, 2020 – In a letter sent today, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American College of Physicians (ACP), and related subspecialty societies urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to continue moving forward with previously finalized changes to documentation guidelines and increased RVUs for office and outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) services as part of the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS).

In the letter the collected organizations said that moving forward with the planned changes to the MPFS “will preserve access to high-quality, affordable care especially at a time when access to care is so important.”

The groups contend that the changes are essential to improving care delivery and it is critical the increases in E/M office visit RVUs and improved documentation guidelines for physicians move forward in 2021, as scheduled.  Additionally, they point to a new add-on code that denotes visit complexity saying it will result in additional, necessary resources that enable physicians to provide better care to their patients.  The letter says that as a whole, CMS’ new policies will lead to significant reduction in administrative burden and better describe and recognize the resources involved in office visits as they are performed today.

The letter continues by noting that the organizations support waiving the budget neutrality requirements in 2021, as a measure to mitigate financial instability as a result the Public Health Emergency caused by COVID-19.  However, they say that waiving that requirement should not delay any of the scheduled changes to the E/M codes.

The groups conclude the letter, “These changes are urgently needed to help sustain primary care at a time when many practices are at risk of closing their doors because of continued revenue losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and when access to primary care is critical to caring for the tens of millions of patients who need, and may have delayed, getting preventive care and treatment for their acute and chronic illnesses from their primary care physician.“

Read the full version of the letter here.

Contact: Megan Moriarty, (800) 274-2237, Ext. 6052, mmoriarty@aafp.org or Taneishia Bundy, (202) 261-4523, tbundy@acponline.org


About the American Academy of Family Physicians

Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians 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, https://familydoctor.org/.

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 159,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), 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.