Provisions in $1.7 trillion omnibus: What patients should know

In enacting a 4,000-plus page spending package at the end of 2022, Washington politicians failed to completely stop Medicare physician funding cuts, which could lead to serious access of care issues for America's Medicare patients.

These cuts to physician Medicare payments come at a time when physician practices are still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and have left many Medicare recipients struggling to access the care they need.

Nevertheless, the $1.7 trillion bill signed by the President does include a number of important provisions that patients should know about.

A few highlights to note:

So, while it's important to acknowledge some positive reforms legislators on both sides of the political aisle worked together to bring about, the big takeaway is that Congress wound up punting on one of their biggest "to-do" items for 2022: fix the still broken Medicare physician funding formula.  Congress' failure is made worse by moving away from the precedent set in 2021 of providing physicians relief from budget-neutrality cuts.

Because of this, Congress has an increased responsibility to make important reforms to the Medicare physician payment system to ensure regular updates that reflect increases in the cost of providing care, like those included in payment systems for all other Medicare providers.

This year, the AMA will continue challenging Congress to work on systemic reforms and make Medicare work better for physicians and their patients.

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