The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) met virtually Jan. 12–13 to discuss payment policy topics in preparation for its March report to Congress. MedPAC is a non-partisan, independent legislative branch commission created to advise Congress about Medicare-related issues.
When assessing payment adequacy for clinician services, the Commissioners voted unanimously in support of the recommendation that for calendar year 2024, Congress should update the 2023 Medicare base payment rate for physician and other health professional services by 50% of the projected increase in the Medicare Economic Index (MEI). The implications of implementing this increase would cost $5–$10 billion over the next 10 years.
The MEI is an index that tracks changes over time in physician practice costs. This MEI is projected to grow rapidly in 2022 through 2024 at unprecedented rates. CMS' latest projections are that the MEI will grow by 4.7% in 2022, 3.9% in 2023 and 2.9% in 2024. Implementing MedPAC’s recommended update should maintain beneficiaries’ access to care and providers’ willingness and ability to furnish care.
The Commission also continued their discussions on telehealth use by Medicare beneficiaries in preparation for its June report to Congress. Updated utilization and spending data was reviewed, including state-level trends and telehealth visit types. Commissioners expressed program integrity concerns, as little is known about quality and patient outcomes at this time. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 extended telehealth flexibilities until Dec. 31, 2024. MedPAC will continue to monitor and discuss telehealth use and outcomes.
For any questions, please contact Kimberly Greck, American College of Radiology® Economic Policy Analyst.