Congress Looking at Partially Reversing Physician Reimbursement Cuts 

11 Mar, 2024 F.J. Thomas

                               

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – This year physician reimbursement saw another decrease overall, dropping 3.4 percent by means of a reduction to the conversion factor used to calculate rates. The conversion factor dropped from $33.89 in 2023 to $32.74 for 2024, representing a $1.15 decrease within the conversion factor itself. 

In the face of never-ending reductions that don’t take inflation into account, the American Medical Association (AMA) has championed legislative efforts to overhaul the physician reimbursement structure. The Preserving Seniors’ Access to Physicians Act, H.R. 6683, introduced on Dec. 7 last year, would increase payment by 4.62 percent. Additional bipartisan efforts to create a “Medicare payment reform working group” was announced in February as well. 

In the meantime, Congress has released a multifaceted $460 billion spending package that includes six bills, one of which gives physicians a slight increase. Amended H.R. 4366 known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024, proposes to increase physician reimbursement by 2.93 percent effective March 9th until the end of the year. Also included in the proposal is language to retroactively provide a slight increase of 1.25 percent for first quarter 2024 through March 8. Additionally, the bill extends the work geographic practice cost indices to remain at 1.0 until 2025. 

The bill also proposes to extend the low-volume hospital payment adjustment, as well as the dependent hospital program for an additional four months through the end of the year. The adjustment to hospice cap amounts are extended as well for one year. 

On spending packages includes a proposal for a $1 million dollar allowance for workers compensation payments and unemployment compensation payments associated with the closure of the United States Bureau of Mines. 

Additional allotments are included for veteran compensation benefits, and a pilot program for disability examinations. The package also makes mention of proposed reporting of ‘‘Disability claims backlog’’ and the number of Veterans appeals be provided by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress on a quarterly basis, no later than 30 days after the end of the quarter. 

Another package includes an additional $34.8 million set aside for education and disability payments for public safety officers. 

The House of Representatives approved a portion of bill earlier this week by a vote of 339 to 85 in order to avoid a government shutdown. The Senate is continuing to work through the 1,050 page proposal. 


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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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