Texas Medical Association pushes for long-term solution after Congress agrees to delay Medicare cuts
AUSTIN (KXAN) – The United States Senate on Thursday passed a bill, expected to be signed by President Biden, that blocks several cuts to medicare scheduled for the first of the year. The House passed the bill in the Senate on Tuesday.
Overall, next year’s physician cutbacks could have been as dramatic as 10% from the previous year, which the Texas Medical Association said would exacerbate an already critical physician shortage and force those who are. remained in the field to remove patients.
According to a survey conducted by the TMA before the bill went to Congress, 62% of Texas doctors say they would have been forced to stop seeing new Medicare patients if the full range of cuts occurred, and 42% said they would stop seeing existing patients.
While this is only a temporary fix, the bill extends the 2% Medicare cut in the budget until April. From April to June, the drop will be only 1%, then peaked at 2% in June.
It also ends the statutory 4% Pay-As-You-Go escrow until next year and extends a 3.75% increase in the physician fee schedule for one year, which has been implemented. placed by lawmakers under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 as a way to help doctors and hospitals provide care during the pandemic.
âWe stayed in the trenches and took care of our patients during the pandemic,â said Dr. Linda Villarreal, president of the Texas Medical Association. “At least they answer it, they look at the fact that yes, it’s alcohol on the wound.”
Villarreal says Medicare payments for physicians have not been increased in 20 years, and while it provides temporary relief in the form of cuts, she hopes Congress will look into the matter longer term.
âI would like this particular entity that controls the making of these decisions to really have a big picture of what it takes to see a patient in a practice. I think we have non-medical staff making decisions for our patients, âVillarreal said.
Now the TMA is calling on leaders to start with a clean slate and consider doctors and they are moving forward to decide what will happen with the looming Medicare slices in the federal budget so that patients continue to have access to their doctors.
“This reduction in payment which was already imperfect when you think about 2001 and what it costs to buy a hamburger and fries now compared to 2001, everything has increased, it will definitely decrease the medical workforce,” said Villarreal.