GPCI Fix Legislation Introduced
Friday, June 21
This week, IMS President-Elect Brian Privett, MD, joined Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-1) at a press conference in Cedar Rapids to announce the introduction of the Keep Physicians Serving Patients Act – a bill to address the more pressing problems with the Medicare Geographic Practice Cost Index (GPCI) that result in Iowa physicians receiving lower payments for providing the same services as their peers in other payment localities. In his remarks, Dr. Privett noted that the GPCI payment cuts limit the resources available for Iowa practices to recruit new physicians and further contribute to our state’s physician workforce shortage. Currently Iowa Medicare payment rates are the 7th lowest of any payment locality. Our state ranks 43rd in the nation for the number of physicians per capita, with several specialties ranking even lower.
IMS has been working to address the Medicare GPCI issue for more than twenty years. With the arrival of two new members of Iowa’s Congressional Delegation this year, we have been focused on educating the new members of Congress and their staff about the GPCI issues and its implications on access to care in Iowa. Over the past few months, IMS has worked with Congresswoman Finkenauer’s staff to craft the new legislation, which requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to utilize more appropriate data in the development of the GPCI calculations. The bill also makes permanent the temporary 1.0 Physician Wage GPCI floor that is set to expire at the end of this year and creates a new permanent 1.0 Practice Expense GPCI floor to put Iowa physicians on par with their peers around the country. These changes would result in an estimated 5% Medicare rate increase for Iowa practices.
In addition to this new legislation, IMS has worked with Senator Chuck Grassley to request a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of the current GPCI methodology. This nonpartisan study will examine the appropriateness of the data and assumptions currently being utilized by CMS, and provide additional recommendations for improvement. The results of the GAO study are expected in the next few months.