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Unacceptable Medicare cuts ahead in 2024

CMS finalizes unacceptable physician pay cuts, and extends telehealth coverage through 2024
Tri-society logos: AGA, ACG and ASGE
Tri-society logos: AGA, ACG and ASGE

The final 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS)/Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) rules were released on Nov. 2.

Key takeaways for GI:

  • Physician payments decline

    The GI societies will urge Congress to reverse the 3.37% cut to Medicare physician reimbursement announced in the 2024 fee schedule. This cut is based on a physician conversion factor of $32.74 (in 2023 the rate is $33.89). Medicare payments already fail to keep up with the increasing cost of delivering healthcare. More cuts only exacerbate that problem.

  • Hospital and ASC payments increase

    Conversion factors increase 3.1% to $87.38 for hospitals and $53.51 for ASCs that meet applicable quality reporting requirements.

  • Telemedicine coverage extended through at least 2024

    CMS finalized several telemedicine provisions, including allowing telehealth visits to originate at any site in the U.S. (e.g., individual’s home), payment for audio-only services, and permanently including Social Determinants of Health Risk Assessments. CMS will continue covering telemedicine through 2024 with payment rates matching those of office/outpatient E/M visits. While many of the telehealth COVID-19 flexibilities are in place until the end of 2024, Congress and CMS are working toward establishing permanent policies for 2025 and beyond. The GI societies are actively participating in these policy discussions to ensure long-term access to telehealth services for your patients.

  • CMS conforms to CPT split/shared visits guidelines

    In good news for facilities, CMS finalized a revision to its definition of “substantive portion” of a split/shared visit to conform to the current procedural terminology (CPT) guidelines, This means that for Medicare billing purposes, the definition of “substantive portion” means more than half of the total time spent by the physician and non-physician practitioner performing the split/shared visit, or a substantive part of the medical decision making as defined by CPT. This responds to public comments asking that CMS allow either time or medical decision making to serve as the substantive portion of a split/shared visit.

  • New codes to increase health equity

    CMS established several new services to help underserved populations. For the first time, CMS will pay for caregiver training services. CMS is also establishing payment for community health integration services, principal illness navigation services and for social determinants health risk assessments that can be reported with certain services, including E/M visits. We applaud the administration’s commitment to advance health equity and expand access to critical medical services.

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