The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) released their newest reports to the Congress last month. MedPAC is an independent Congressional agency that is set up to counsel the Congress regarding various issues that affect the Medicare program. One of the major recommendations put forward by MedPAC for physician fee schedule payments include the increase of payment rates for physician and many other professional health services by the Congress with the stipulated amount mentioned for the calendar year 2018.
In the report, several key issues like Medicare information and the overall health spending along with its impact on federal spending are thoroughly addressed by MedPAC. Various other issues like the information to assist the Congress in evaluating Medicare provider payment adequacy, suggestions on fee-for-service payment updates, information about Medicare enrollment, plan offering, and MA payments are also addressed. In addition, various suggestions are put forward in the report to determine ways to offer quality care while giving out incentives for providers to limit cost growth.
The Congress has given authority to MedPAC for making proposals in the annual payment updates for providers paid using the fee-for-service segment of the Medicare program. The annual update recommendations put forward in the last few years have turned out pointless due to issues with the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). The repeal and replacement of SGR with MACRA have resulted in improved importance for MedPAC’s recommendations.
The switch from SGR to MACRA has enabled the Congress to authorize several annual updates through 2019, despite the recommendations of MedPAC. This however never prevents MedPAC from offering recommendations or guiding the Congress about the provider payments status. The preliminary assessment of MedPAC will focus on the adequacy of Medicare payments stated for a provider in the year 2017. This would also consider the beneficiaries access and quality of care, provider’s capital access, and Medicare payments and providers costs.
Some of the highlight findings and recommendations detailed in the report relate to physicians, other health professional payments and beneficiary access, quality of care, Medicare payments, and provider’s costs. MedPAC also issued a warning to the Congress concerning the impact of the baby-boom generation on the Medicare program.
MedPAC assessments have stated that there is a clear decline in the number of workers per Medicare beneficiary. The reports predict that there will be a further decline in the number of workers per beneficiary over the next 15 years.