An APTA-supported coalition representing more than 1 million clinicians isn't mincing any words when it comes to what Congress should do about the 2023 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule: Act now and act decisively to prevent the entire reduction in payment.
In a joint letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, APTA and more than 100 other organizations call on lawmakers to stop the entire 4.5% reduction to the Medicare conversion factor included in the 2023 fee schedule by providing additional funding, as it did in both 2020 and 2021. The conversion factor is used to calculate payment for codes commonly used by PTs and 27 other specialties.
The three-paragraph letter gets straight to the point, stating that in addition to facing a 4.5% reduction in payment, clinicians across the country are dealing with the effects of inflation. Making matters worse, according to the coalition, is the fact that the fee schedule is the only payment system in Medicare that lacks an annual inflationary update. In other words, even if Congress were to provide the necessary relief, clinicians would still be facing inflation-related pressures that the fee schedule can't address.
"We cannot overstate the importance of Congress stopping the entirety of the upcoming 4.5% reduction," the letter states. "Anything less will result in an across-the-board cut that will further exacerbate the significant financial hardship clinicians are already facing and undermine Medicare's ability to deliver on its promises to seniors and future generations."
APTA is calling on all PTs, PTAs, and students, as well as patients and supporters, to personally urge lawmakers to address the fee schedule cuts by way of the association's Patient Action Center.
Legislators won't have to start from scratch to create a fix; in fact, a plan is already in the works in the House. Known as the Supporting Medicare Providers Act of 2022 (H.R. 8800), the bipartisan proposal would take on the cuts for 2023 as well as begin to address the systemic shortcomings of the entire fee schedule. APTA and multiple other organizations have long criticized the fee schedule system as an outdated program in need of comprehensive reform.
"Physical therapy is proven to significantly reduce the costs of pain treatment, decrease the use of opioids, prevent falls, and effectively manage chronic conditions, yet it has been cut year after year under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule despite additional funding provided by Congress," said Aaron Bishop, APTA's vice president of public affairs in a press release from the coalition. "Therapy clinics and facilities are facing unprecedented payment challenges and administrative burdens that are exacerbated by the current surge in inflation. This is simply unsustainable for the patients we serve."
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