CMS released the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) proposed rule on Aug. 3, and there were significant changes that affect all healthcare providers in the areas of reimbursement, policy, and quality measures. Specifically, changes to the outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) services. These changes are scheduled to take effect January 1, 2021 and will be devastating to certain physician specialties, especially in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
This policy was intended to improve the reimbursement of E/M services, which we support. However, based on the statutory requirement that all reimbursement changes are budget neutral (any increase in Medicare reimbursement must be offset by similar reimbursement cuts elsewhere in the MPFS). This means certain specialties will encounter significant reductions in reimbursement, which is particularly challenging during these unprecedented times.
We need to urge our elected officials to waive budget neutrality requirements until the impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare system can be assessed. This is critical to safeguarding patients’ access to quality care and protecting physicians’ ability to receive fair compensation for delivery of that care.