The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final rule on November 2. The 2,414-page final rule is the document that informs what Medicare payments will be for the following year.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 43 – No 01 – January 2024
Physician Fee Schedule Conversion Factor
As expected, the conversion factor, a dollar amount which, when multiplied by the relative value units assigned to a code, determines the payment amount, is expected to drop by 3.39 percent. The estimated impact on emergency medicine will be minus two percent to offset increases in new payments to maintain statute-driven budget neutrality across the entire fee schedule.
However, ACEP is lobbying Congress to step in with new funding to prevent or lessen these cuts. HR 2474, the Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act, would provide an annual update of the conversion factor equal to the increase in the Medicare Economic Index (MEI), but the cost of this legislation may be too high for broad support under our current national fiscal situation.
ED E/M RVUs Remain Stable
CMS did not make changes to the Work RVUs for the ED E/M codes, but there were a few small changes to the Practice Expense and Professional Liability Insurance RVUs at the second decimal place.
If we apply the revised 2024 final conversion factor of $32.7442 the ED E/M codes payments should look like Figure 1.
Split or Shared Services
CMS has finalized its policy on split or shared E/M visits by a physician, when the visit is performed in part by a physician and in part by an advanced practice provider (APP) who are in the same group, and when the physician meets certain criteria termed the “substantive portion” of the visit. CMS has accepted new language in the 2024 CPT code set, so the rules are aligned for both CPT and CMS in 2024. CMS is continuing to limit the split or shared concept to E/M codes only, not procedures.
In 2024, the definition of “substantive portion” means more than half the total time spent by both the physician and the APP for the encounter, or a substantive part of the medical decision making. CPT uses the example: the physician made or approved the number and complexity of problems addressed at the encounter (known as COPA) and takes responsibility for the inherent risk of complications and/or morbidity or mortality of patient management; thereby performing two of the three categories of medical decision making and the substantive portion of the visit.