Stop cutting reimbursement rates to health care professionals
Bringing Community Back to Healthcare

Stop cutting reimbursement rates to health care professionals

Congress must address the looming threat to our nation’s health care infrastructure, specifically the perilous state of Medicare reimbursement for physicians. The impact of congressional inaction on the Medicare physician payment system poses a significant risk to the already vulnerable communities residing in health care deserts in Nevada and throughout the United States.

In 2024, Physicians who treat patients with Medicare face a potential 3.37% cut in reimbursement payments, as proposed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). After decades of such cuts, no last-minute “fix” will be sufficient. Instead, it is time for meaningful changes to how Medicare pays physicians who treat our aging loved ones and neighbors.


Physicians, particularly those serving underrepresented populations, find themselves at a crossroads. The relentless reduction in their reimbursements exacerbates the challenge of retaining qualified medical professionals in these critical institutions. These physicians play a pivotal role in offering health care services to communities abandoned by mainstream health care providers, and the continued threat of reduced reimbursements undermines their ability to attract and retain skilled physicians.


The financial strain on physicians is undeniable. Over the past two decades, the cost of running a medical practice surged by 39%, according to a report by Medscape Medical News. Astonishingly, an analysis of Medicare Trustees data by the American Medical Association (AMA) reveals a 26% reduction in Medicare physician payments when adjusted for inflation over a similar period. This stands in stark contrast to the significant increases in payments for skilled nursing facilities, inpatient hospital visits, and outpatient hospital visits.


To avert an impending crisis, Congress must act urgently and decisively. Immediate steps include preventing the scheduled 3.37% payment reduction from taking effect on January 1, 2024. This will require new legislation in Congress, and I urge Senator Catherine Cortez Masto to take the lead on that. A more comprehensive and forward-looking solution lies in the passage of H.R. 6683, known as " Preserving Seniors’ Access to Physicians Act of 2023." This legislation proposes a permanent inflation-based update to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.


In the long term, Congress must commit to reforming the Medicare physician payment system. Reforms should prioritize simplicity, reflect real-world physician practice costs, and provide predictability for both physicians and CMS. Failure to act promptly risks not only the financial viability of medical practices but, more critically, the accessibility and quality of health care for vulnerable communities nationwide. We must not overlook the urgent need to safeguard the foundations of our health care system for the well-being of all Nevada’s people.


Michele Orillo is a Network and Contract representative in the health care field.