Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released the 2024 Medicare physician fee schedule and Quality Payment Program proposed rule. While the proposed rule includes several provisions intended to strengthen primary care, CMS plans to cut the Medicare conversion factor by 3.34%, which means physician fees across the program would be reduced.
“These cuts are unacceptable and could threaten practice stability and undermine physicians’ goals of increasing access to primary care,” said AAFP President Tochi Iroku-Malize, MD, MPH, in a July 13 statement. “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 Yet, outdated Medicare payment rates prevent practices from investing in the resources they need to shift to value-based payment—threatening value-based care and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.”
AAFP and other physician organizations will continue to call for sweeping reform to protect Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care. According to AAFP, efforts include urging Congress to implement an annual inflationary update to help ensure physician payment rates keep pace with rising practice costs. The Academy is asking members to use Speak Out to tell your representatives in Congress to modernize Medicare physician payment.
Despite the proposed cut to the conversion factor, AAFP expressed gratitude for several proposals designed to strengthen primary care. According to AAFP:
- CMS plans to move forward with implementing the G2211 add-on code, which is meant to more appropriately value the physician work involved in providing continuous, longitudinal primary care. Despite the proposed reduction to the Medicare conversion factor, the implementation of the G2211 code is expected to result in a small net increase in allowed charges for family medicine in 2024;
- CMS will continue to update clinical labor pricing, which benefits primary care practices;
- CMS proposes to pay for telehealth services provided to patients in their homes at the higher non-facility rate beginning in 2024;
- CMS proposes to increase the value of the general behavioral health integration codes; and
- CMS proposes to stop implementation of the burdensome Appropriate Use Criteria program by rescinding existing regulations.