March 23, 2022
Medicare Physician Payment System Is Broken, MedPAC Should Support Update
A Zero Percent Increase to Anesthesiologists’ Payments Seriously Threatens Practice Survival and Patient Access to Care
CHICAGO – The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) urges Congress to not accept the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommendation of no (zero percent) annual payment update for physician payments in 2023. MedPAC put forth the recommendation as part of its March 2022 report despite significant evidence of already inadequate rates, rising practice costs, and pandemic-related financial pressures facing physician practices serving patients with high-quality care every day. MedPAC is an independent legislative branch agency that provides Congress with analysis and policy advice on the Medicare program.
The Medicare physician payment system has been broken for decades, according to ASA. For anesthesia services, Medicare payment rates are inadequate due to flaws in the government formula used to calculate anesthesia rates, which is unlike the formula used for other physician payments. Anesthesiologists receive a Medicare payment of less than 33% of what commercial health insurers pay, whereas according to MedPAC’s own data, other physician specialties receive payments of 75 to 80% of commercial insurer payments.
“For decades, there have been real cuts to Medicare physician anesthesiologist payment rates on top of the steady erosion caused by inflation,” said ASA President Randall M. Clark, M.D., FASA. “Even when Congress acts to reduce the cuts as it did last year, we were still left with a 2.75% cut overall for 2022. This occurred as we move into the third year of the pandemic and with no accounting for the highest inflation rate in 40 years. Medicare payment for anesthesia services is objectively inadequate and fundamentally flawed.”
In addition to rejecting this zero percent update, ASA further urges Congress to recognize it is well past time for meaningful and comprehensive reform to the Medicare payment system.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS
Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 55,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.
For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at asahq.org. To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit asahq.org/madeforthismoment. Like ASA on Facebook and follow ASALifeline on Twitter.