ASRA Joins Plea for Economic Changes in Response to COVID-19
ASRA has joined more than 100 professional medical societies and organizations to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to waive the requirement for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to adjust Medicare physician payments for budget neutrality when it implements the office visit coding and payment changes that it has finalized for 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created economic hardships for many medical practices, and proposed 2021 budget neutrality cuts would affect physicians and healthcare professionals who do not report office visit codes by an estimated 5-8% with this requirement. Physician practice revenue was estimated to have been reduced by as much as 50% from March to May 2020 - the equivalent of $70.6 billion in reduced revenue. Ongoing COVID-19 spread, patient fear of going to the doctor, and new safety precautions which reduce the number of patients who can be seen as well as increase practice costs, are expected to reduce revenue by at least another 25% by the end of summer - another estimated $35.3 billion in reduced revenue. Adding to those financial stressors, many practices will be paying back loans provided through the Advanced Payment Program beginning in August. The combination of all of these factors creates a very difficult economic situation for many providers.
The organizations are asking HHS to "use its authorities and flexibilities under the public health emergency to implement the office visit increases and waive the requirement for CMS to adjust Medicare physician payments for budget neutrality when it implements the office visit coding and payment changes that it has finalized for 2021."