The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has released its latest report to Congress with recommendations for changes to the Medicare program. This nonpartisan Congressional agency advises Congress on Medicare payment policy and their recommendations carry significant influence.

In their latest report, MedPAC has focused on the issue of Medicare reimbursement and inflation – highlighting the fact that modest reimbursement increases have resulted in net decreases to physician payment due to rising costs of living.

The report recommends that Congress take action by updating physicians and other health professionals by 50% of the projected increase in the Medicare Economic Index (MEI). Practically speaking, this means that physicians would receive a 1.45% increase in payment in the 2024 Medicare physician fee schedule. While this may not sound like a lot, it’s a step in the right direction to address the issue of inadequate Medicare payments.

MedPAC’s report also highlights that clinicians’ operating costs have increased faster than in previous years, which is why their recommendation is so important. To put it simply, the cost of providing healthcare services is increasing, but Medicare payments are not keeping up.

But that’s not all – MedPAC has also endorsed implementing a non-budget neutral add-on payment under the physician fee schedule for services provided to low-income Medicare beneficiaries. This means that physicians and other healthcare providers will be financially incentivized to provide care to underserved groups. This is a significant step towards achieving equitable care outcomes for patients with added medical and social complexities.

In total, the recommended changes to Medicare reimbursement are forecasted to cost between $750 million and $2 billion per year in 2024, and between $5 billion and $10 billion per year over the next five years. While this may seem like a lot of money, it’s important to remember that healthcare is a fundamental human right and we must invest in it accordingly.

As always, ADVOCATE will keep you up to date on this and other issues impacting the healthcare industry.

Kirk Reinitz, President