June 19, 2019

ACR Supports Legislation to Improve Physician Payment in Rural Areas

Bipartisan members of Congress led by Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) recently introduced H.R. 3302, The Keep Physicians Serving Patients Act of 2019. The legislation improves how Medicare’s practice expense and physician work geographic practice cost indexes (GPCIs) are calculated to ensure physicians in rural areas receive suitable payment for their services.

Currently, Medicare’s practice expense and physician work GPCIs adjust payments to physicians regionally based on their relative costs of practicing medicine. Unfortunately, these indexes are calculated using inaccurate and outdated data that underestimate the cost of practicing in non-urban areas.

The Keep Physicians Serving Patients Act of 2019 improves this calculation by requiring that the value of these indexes does not fall below a set minimum level in any geographic region.

The United States faces a projected physician shortage with a possible shortfall of 121,300 doctors by 2030. Setting a GPCI minimum would more accurately reflect the cost of practicing in non-urban areas and ensure that physicians who practice there will receive appropriate payments. Physician retention would likely improve, and more doctors would be motivated to establish their practices in small towns and rural areas.

The American College of Radiology is pleased to join with many of our national medical society colleagues to support this legislation. We will continue to closely monitor its progress.