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April28, 2023

Contact: Grant Herring

USPA Reacts to the Washington Post’s Editorial On Medicare

USPA stresses The Importance of Office-based Specialists 

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the United Specialists for Patient Access (USPA) Issued a response to the Washington Post Editorial Board’s opinion on Medicare spending and concerns over hospitals absorbing independent doctors’ offices.

The Washington Post Editorial Board’s proposed solution to these issues is implementing a policy that would drive down hospital rates to levels comparable to those of independent office-based specialists. However, due to the ongoing cuts to office-based specialists in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS), if this particular site-neutral policy would go into effect, it would lower hospital Medicare reimbursement rates to levels that already are unsustainable for office-based specialists. Independent doctors' offices would not be protected by such an approach.

Washington Post Editorial: A fiscally responsible government cannot keep its hands off Medicare 

“Medicare pays more for services performed on an outpatient basis at hospitals than it does for the same services done at physicians’ offices or ambulatory surgical centers. This makes no sense and creates an incentive for hospitals to buy up independent doctors’ offices that they then relabel as hospital facilities. Eliminating this discrepancy could save $141 billion over 10 years.” (Washington Post, 3/23/2023)

The solution proposed by the Post would be to reduce hospital rates to levels that are already inadequate for independent doctors' offices.

USPA continues to focus on the need for Congress to work in a bipartisan way on fundamental reform of the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS). It needs to reassess how cuts, like those included in the MPFS for 2021 – 2023, are creating a domino effect through the entire healthcare system by restricting patient options for care. If Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) wish to slow down the acquisition of independent doctors' offices by hospitals, one of the best options is to simply stop cuts to office-based specialists under the MPFS that are ongoing through 2025. This approach has support from both sides of the aisle and would better protect office-based specialists from further closures and acquisition by hospitals.  

Dr. Mark Garcia, USPA board member and CMO for American Vascular Associates, said: “While we can all agree that we need to reverse the health system consolidation trend, the answer to protecting office-based specialists is to stop year-over-year cuts. Unfortunately, The Post is pushing a policy that is neither good for independent doctors’ offices nor hospitals. It’s high time that Congress take action to protect patient access to quality care by keeping local doctors open for business."



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