What medical groups want to see in 2022

The Medical Group Management Association outlines its priorities for the year ahead.

Medical groups are looking to Washington for more support in dealing with COVID-19, but the group’s priorities for the next year go beyond the pandemic.

The Medical Group Management Association outlined its top issues for 2022.

Anders Gilberg, senior vice president of the MGMA, said medical groups are looking to see some of the regulatory flexibility allowed under the COVID-19 public health emergency to be made permanent.

The Biden administration just extended the public health emergency for another 90 days. The emergency allows greater flexibility for everything from telehealth to vaccines.

“As we move into the third calendar year of the pandemic, it is critical to integrate the regulatory flexibilities afforded by the PHE into permanent policies that provide better patient access and red tape relief,” Gilbert said in a statement.

“Zooming out from the pandemic, the broader issue of physician payment reform looms over medical groups with cuts to Medicare reimbursement slated for as early as April.”

MGMA outlined some key issues in the year ahead.

COVID-19

The association is seeking reimbursement for expenses related to COVID-19, support for practices that are hurting financially, access to personal protective equipment and continued regulatory flexibility. The MGMA also would like to see streamlined reporting requirements.

Telehealth

The public health emergency allowed some temporary access to expand telehealth, but healthcare advocates would like the measures to be permanent. It’s a top priority for MGMA as well.

“MGMA believes these flexibilities should extend past the expiration of the COVID-19 public health emergency to allow practices to continue providing safe, cost-effective, virtual care to vulnerable patient populations,” the group said.

Reimbursements

The MGMA is looking for reimbursement rates that “cover the cost of delivering care to patients,” and said the rates should also be adjusted to keep pace with inflation.

In December, Congress and President Joe Biden agreed to delay cuts to Medicare, but a 1% reduction takes place in April. Medicare is slated to see a 2% reduction in July. Biden signed off on a one-year increase in the Medicare physician payment schedule of 3% for 2022. Healthcare advocates are pushing for more funding for Medicare and better payments for physicians.

Value-based care

Medical groups are pushing to move away from fee-for-service models and pushing more toward value-based care. The association says Washington should encourage more alternate payment models (also dubbed APMs).

Alternative payment models “must be designed to offer participants appropriate support, incentives, reimbursement, and flexibility,” MGMA says. “We encourage Medicare and the industry as a whole to launch new voluntary APMs in order to expand participation opportunities for group practices of all specialties.”

Prior authorization

Medical groups continue to call for relief in prior authorization, the process of determining if payers will cover certain drugs or treatments. Doctors and medical groups say the prior authorization process consumes too much time and delays patient care.

A 2021 MGMA survey found 81% of respondents said prior authorization burdens have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The MGMA is also seeking more standardization in other administrative procedures.

More doctors

Healthcare advocacy groups, including the MGMA, are calling on Congress and the Biden administration to take more steps to boost the physician workforce. Advocates say the nation was dealing with a physician shortage before the start of the pandemic.