Psychologists providing services to Medicare beneficiaries will likely see a marked reduction in payment in 2021. In the proposed rule on the 2021 Medicare physician fee schedule, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) confirmed that to offset higher values for next year’s outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) services, the agency seeks to slash payments for all services by 10.6%.
CMS is also proposing to increase the values for some psychotherapy codes (90791, 90832, 90834, and 90837) to maintain relativity with outpatient E/M codes, however, this will not be enough to offset the losses psychologists will face.
These payment cuts stem from the agency’s legal requirement to maintain a neutral budget from one year to the next. In 2019 and again in 2020, APA called on CMS to waive budget neutrality because of the devastating effect it would have on psychologists and other health professionals. APA is also partnering with a coalition of healthcare providers asking Congress to work with CMS on a solution that will allow the increases for E/M without cutting payments to other providers.
Comments on the proposed rule are due by Oct. 5, 2020. APA will continue its review of the 1,300 page proposed rule and provide psychologists with additional information in the coming weeks about how they can advocate for our profession and the patients we serve.