Electronic Health Records, Inflation, and Private Medicine
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Electronic Health Records, Inflation, and Private Medicine

7 July 2022


In late 2021, doctors and medical students bombarded Congress with hundreds of thousands of letters protesting a scheduled 10% cut to Medicare payment rates for private physicians. The effort, largely organized by the American Medical Association, was rewarded, and doctors were granted a reprieve from the full reduction, but physician payments are still being trimmed just as inflation has hit a 40‐​year high. Physicians are also facing a statutory payment freeze scheduled to last through 2026.In some ways, this marks a pivotal moment for private physicians. Unlike other small business owners, doctors running private practices have little power to set their own prices; Medicare largely sets the going rates for the entire industry. But the costs of running a private medical practice rose by around 39% between 2001 and 2021, even before the recent inflationary spike. Related expenses include office rent, employee wages and benefits, costly medical equipment, malpractice insurance premiums, and so forth. On top of that, a study published in JAMA Health Forum estimates that it costs $12,811 and takes more than 200 hours per physician annually to comply with the Medicare Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)


Devorah Goldman
Assistant Editor, National Affairs