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San Francisco Marin Medical Society Blog

MACRA Action Needed

For years, Medicare's deeply flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula created an environment of uncertainty for physicians as they dealt with the constant threat of devasting cuts that threatened access to care for millions of patients. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) got rid of the SGR and took a step in the right direction towards shoring up physicians' ability to care for Medicare patients, but there is still work to be done.

The AMA has helped to secure improvements to key aspects of MACRA including the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Alternative Payment Models (APM), but it simply isn't enough.

As it currently stands physicians are facing another year without a positive update and are facing a pay freeze for the next SIX years.

In comparison, according to a Medicare Trustees report Medicare hospital pay has increased roughly 50% between from 2001 to 2018, with an average annual increase of 2.5 percent per year for inpatient services and 2.4 percent for outpatient services.

During the same time, economy-wide inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, increased 43 percent or 2.1 percent annually on average. However, adjusting for inflation in practice costs, Medicare physician pay has declined 19 percent from 2001 to 2018.

These stats speak for themselves, America's physicians cannot continue to provide quality care for their Medicare patients under the current stagnant payment model. Even a modest .5% increase annually would help ensure that Medicare participating physicians can continue to service their patients.

That is why we are calling on Congress to stand with America's physicians and patients by continuing to improve MACRA and:

  • Implement positive payment adjustments for physicians to replace the payment freeze over the next six years;
  • Extend the Advanced APM bonus payments for an additional six years;
  • Implement additional technical improvements to MACRA.

These improvements will make an immediate impact and help protect physician practices from accruing additional penalties as they continue their transition over to the MIPS and APM programs. More importantly, these changes need to be made this year to ensure that seniors continue to have access to care by Medicare participating physicians.

Help us send a powerful message throughout the halls of Congress that physicians are united in urging lawmakers to take immediate action now!

*Please click the link above in order to compose your message to Congress.*

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