During the College annual meeting, the Advocacy Council organized a Congressional letter writing campaign for conference attendees. In all, more than 200 letters to Representatives and Senators from over 25 states were written by allergists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurses.
The focus of this campaign was on the five-year freeze in Medicare physician fee-schedule payments that is scheduled to begin on Jan. 1. In years past, physicians could always count on at least an inflationary increase in Medicare payments paid using the fee schedule. Now, unless you participate in an Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM) approved by Medicare or you collect and report MIPS data, you will not see any increase in Medicare fee-schedule payments.
In the letter, the participants noted they are experiencing:
“… ever rising costs – not just costs related to the practice of medicine – but general costs hitting all small businesses. Office space, utilities and employee salaries are all rising. Over the past six years, the Consumer Price Index has gone up 43 percent. When you add the administrative costs associated with the submission of Medicare claims, particularly to obtain QPP payments, the costs are prohibitive.”
At the time that MACRA was passed, many in organized medicine felt that the availability of Advanced APMs would be so wide-spread and participation in MIPS would be so easy that most physicians would be able to avoid the fee-schedule freeze.
Unfortunately, there are very few Advanced APMs (including none that are particularly relevant or useful for allergists) and participation in MIPS has become so cumbersome and administratively challenging that few physicians are collecting and reporting MIPS data.
Letter writers asked their elected officials to stand with America's physicians and patients by continuing to improve MACRA and:
- Implement positive payment adjustments for physicians to replace the payment freeze slated for the next six years;
- Extend the Advanced APM bonus payments for an additional six years;
- Implement additional technical improvements to MACRA; and,
- Support the approval by CMS of physician-focused APMs.
The Advocacy Council will continue to work and advocate on behalf of the allergy/immunology specialty and we want to thank all those who took the time to participate in this important letter-writing campaign. The Advocacy Council – we have you covered.