The expertise, experience, and perspective of physicians and physician assistants practicing in Washington is crucial to helping to inform our advocacy on your behalf. And, it's often crucial in helping to inform legislators' decision-making on policy being debated at the state and federal levels.
On this page, we'll highlight some of WSMA's top advocacy priorities where lawmakers need to hear from physicians and PAs directly.
Urge Congressional Action to Halt Medicare Payment Cuts
On Aug. 3, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services published the 2021 Medicare physician fee schedule proposed rule, comprising numerous payment policy proposals—some of which are deeply concerning to the house of medicine.
Most notably, CMS is restructuring and revaluing the office-based evaluation and management (E/M) codes, following broad changes made in 2019. While the proposal provides an increase in payments for primary care and other office-based services, the effect will result in drastic cuts—as high as 11%—to certain physician specialties. This is due to current law requiring any changes to the physician fee schedule to be budget neutral.
We need you to act today: Urge your congressional representative to waive the budget neutrality requirements stipulated in Section 1848(c)(2) of the Social Security Act before the final E/M code proposal is implemented on Jan. 1, 2021. This much-needed action by Congress, for inclusion in any forthcoming legislative package, will provide a critical reprieve for physicians and a broad scope of health care professionals facing substantial payment reductions in the coming months.
Your emails can make a difference. Please act today.
Take Action: Urge Your State Lawmakers to Support Telemedicine Payment Parity
The Legislature has granted a brief extension—through Oct. 1—of Gov. Jay Inslee's proclamation temporarily requiring telemedicine payment parity. While the WSMA was glad to see the proclamation extended, we continue to advocate for the policy to be extended through the end of the year, which is when the provisions of Senate Bill 5385, permanently requiring payment parity from state-regulated health plans, take effect.
Similarly, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner has extended its emergency order to health insurers expanding telehealth and other coverages until Oct. 14, including requiring all state-regulated carriers to permit and reimburse for care provided over non-HIPAA compliant platforms, including video chat applications and telephones.
We need you to act: Please write your local legislators and urge them to:
- Extend the governor's telemedicine parity proclamation through Dec. 31, 2020.
- Call on the OIC to extend its emergency telemedicine order for the duration of the public health crisis.
Physicians and practices need certainty that these policies will remain in effect as the pandemic continues to play out in Washington state. Please act today.
Take Action: Tell Congress to Prioritize Patients and Physicians
As Congress debates the next round of financial stimulus policies, the WSMA is advocating for more support for the physician community. You can help. Congressional action is needed on three issues that are critically important for ensuring patient access to care and physician practice viability during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Requiring ERISA plans to pay at parity for telemedicine services.
- Enacting liability protections for health care workers as part of the next stimulus package.
- Prioritizing direct support to physician practices in the next stimulus package.
Elected officials in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives need to hear from their physician and PA constituents on these issues. Take action today.