The AASM joined the American Medical Association (AMA) and numerous other specialty societies in signing on to a July 1 letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advocating for planned office visit payment increases. The AASM signed on to the letter to highlight the importance of ensuring that physicians and practices are still able to meet patient needs at a time when many are facing economic difficulties due to the pandemic.

All national specialty societies that are members of the AMA House of Delegates received an invitation to sign on to the letter. It requests that HHS use its authorities and flexibilities under the COVID-19 public health emergency to implement the planned increase to work RVUs and reimbursements for office visits and waive the requirement for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to adjust Medicare physician payments for budget neutrality when it implements the office visit coding and payment changes that it has finalized for 2021. The HHS budget neutrality statute requires that any changes to RVUs cannot increase or decrease expenditures for physicians’ services overall by more than $20 million.

If CMS increases RVUs for a given service, the increase must be offset by decreases in payments for other services, which will negatively impact many specialties, including sleep medicine, as there are several changes to Evaluation and Management (E/M) office visit codes that are set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2021. The changes are intended to reduce administrative burden and more accurately reflect the time spent on patient care while also translating into an increase in revenue, which according to the statute, will trigger budget neutrality adjustments.