There’s no compelling reason to pay physicians more next year, concludes the 604-page report that the Medicare Payment Assessment Commission (MedPAC) submitted to Congress on March 15. “We expect volume and revenue to return to pre-pandemic levels (or higher) by 2023,” stated the influential panel in the report it’s legally required to give lawmakers each year.
That prediction may or may not be true. What can’t be questioned is that:
- Physicians have gone several years without a meaningful pay increase;
- Inflation is at a 40-year-high; and
- The 2 percent Medicare sequester penalty will soon be reinstated.
None of this seems to have factored into MedPAC’s analysis. “Overall, access to clinician services for Medicare beneficiaries appears stable and comparable to that for privately insured individuals,” the report states.
Not surprisingly, physician groups took issue with the report, which the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) called “deeply troubling.” Meanwhile, HHS secretary Xavier Becerra indicated last week that he’s concerned about physicians’ financial struggles and “definitely interested” in considering reform of the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.