Congress’ message to doctors: Keep up the pressure

AMA News Wire

Congress’ message to doctors: Keep up the pressure

March 22, 2024

While the Medicare physician pay cut dominated discussions with lawmakers who spoke at the AMA’s National Advocacy Conference last month, members of Congress are working on several other legislative solutions to issues affecting physicians. and patients

Rep. Larry Bucshon, MD (R-Ind.), had the distinction of speaking twice at the event. First, during a 30-minute keynote session and again when he was among six people to accept an AMA Award for Outstanding Government Service.

Regarding the 2024 Medicare payment cut, Dr. Bucshon said the good news is that the problems with Medicare physician pay have become institutionalized, which means everyone in Congress is aware of it and knows that action is needed.

In other laws related to health care, Dr. Bucshon co-sponsored the bipartisan No Surprises Act aimed at preventing patients from being hit with unexpected and costly out-of-network charges, and is a co-sponsor of the SAFE Act. of the Healthcare Employee Violence Act (SAVE), HR 2584, which would impose penalties on those who assault or intimidate hospital employees.

The SAVE Act has hit a roadblock because some members of the House believe the problem should be solved locally, but Dr. Bucshon argued that federalizing these crimes has helped provide airline employees with the protection they need , the kind of protection that doctors and other health professionals deserve too.

Dr. Bucshons is working to reform Medicare’s physician schedule budget neutrality provision, and is also a co-sponsor of the Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act (HR 2474), which would provide automatic updates to Medicare payment rates related to the doctors. to inflation

Although physician allies in Congress were ultimately unsuccessful in fully rolling back the 2024 pay cut, Dr. Bucshon urged physicians to continue working with lawmakers on issues such as lifting limits on owned by doctors’ hospitals.

Keep the pressure on, said Dr. Bucshon, a cardiothoracic surgeon who is not running for re-election. Your defense is critical.

The AMA Recovery Plan for America’s Physicians is rebuilding critical components of the medical profession by:

Representative Ami Bera, MD (D-Calif.), an internist and former Sacramento County chief medical officer, previously co-sponsored legislation with Dr. Bucshon to prevent Medicare payment cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Bera, whose wife is also an internist, noted that Dr. Bucshon has been a great partner in working on health issues, adding that we need more doctors to run.

Unless you’ve been at a patient’s bedside or in an operating room or exam room, you’re not aware of the complexity of health care, Dr. Bera said. Legislators who, however, understand how the policy will be translated into practice.

AMA Past President Jack Resneck Jr., MD, spoke with Dr. Bera about the need to add more Medicare-funded graduate medical education positions, and the congressman suggested that perhaps health plans highly profitable should also play a role in funding residency training.

The consolidation of the healthcare sector and the acquisition of practices by private equity firms were other concerns raised in the discussion.

They will focus on profits and not on patient care, Dr. Bera said of the private equity interests. This will lead to more medical burnout and loss of joy in the practice of medicine.

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) also spoke in favor of tying Medicare pay adjustments for doctors to the rate of inflation, growing the nations health care workforce and putting more emphasis on care preventive

We don’t have enough doctors, we don’t have enough nurses, we don’t have enough to do anything if we continue down this path, said Buchanan, who is vice chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and chairs the House Energy and Media Committee. Subcommittee on Health of the Trade Committees.

Preventive care is everything in terms of where we are and where we need to go, he added. If you have any problem, you can cut it in step.

To this end, Buchan has sponsored and Dr. Bucshon has co-sponsored HR 6693, the Lung Cancer Screening and Prevention Act.

He also spoke in support of strengthening telehealth and asked doctors for their thoughts and ideas on where they see it going best.

Consolidation within the healthcare sector and the preservation of small independent practices is another concern of Buchanans. He noted that his nephew, a radiologist, was considering joining a practice in Sarasota, but chose a group in Las Vegas after the Florida organization was bought by a hedge fund. Then, about six months later, the Las Vegas group was bought by the same hedge fund.

Rep. Robin L. Kelly (D-Ill.), co-sponsor of HR 6371, the Provider Reimbursement Stability Act, which would reform the budget neutrality provisions governing Medicare, also mentioned the negative impact of cuts to Medicare payment on access. physician payment schedule.

Kelly, whose district spans urban, suburban and rural areas, has championed initiatives to reduce health disparities. He chairs the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust and is a member of the Digital Health Caucus.

Last year, she introduced HR 5568, the Community Access, Resources, and Empowerment (CARE) Act for Mothers, which would establish a grant program to develop sustainable perinatal quality partnerships to measurably improve perinatal care and perinatal health outcomes for pregnant and postpartum women and their infants.

Kelly urged doctors to continue advocating.

Your voice is heard and matters, he added.

Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said that despite misinformation about science and medicine, members of Congress have great respect for doctors.

The respect we all have for you, professionally, runs deep, Neal said, adding that members of Congress strive to be your champions.

Neal also mentioned the important role health care plays in the Massachusetts economy, noting that the state’s largest employer is Medicare.

He spoke earnestly, without mockery, in favor of stopping Medicare physician pay cuts and increasing physician payment under the program. Neal also noted his support for prior authorization reform.

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