The existing Medicare payment system has long presented challenges to physicians and practices due to the persistent physician reimbursement cuts that the NCMS and our partner medical societies have had to annually work to avert through congressional action. Up until last year, those efforts have been successful in holding the line on the existing reimbursement rate. In 2022, however, a payment reduction of 8.5% was looming which was ultimately adjusted to 2%. This cut is a precursor to another 2% cut scheduled this year and raises the urgency in our advocacy and communications to our members of Congress.

Complementary to the ongoing work to prompt Congress to initiate a Medicare system overhaul, a corresponding letter has been sent to leadership of both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate, imploring them to acknowledge the dire circumstance that many of our members find themselves facing with declining reimbursement and seeking action to implement an annual inflationary adjustment to help retain physicians in the Medicare system and thereby avoid further access to care challenges for North Carolina’s 2.1 million Medicare patients.

As illustrated below, physicians are the only “provider,” as defined by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), that is not eligible for an inflationary adjustment in reimbursement, and when adjusted for inflation, physician payment has declined 26% over the 2001-2023 period.

The letter, which is signed by 135 partner organizations, is asking Congress to enact legislation to address the perennial dilemma of underpayment that physicians face. The NCMS will continue to reinforce that message.