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by Melissa Fray

Learn more about what major changes or events may impact GI physicians for the remainder of 2022.

COVID-19, upcoming political midterms, and a potential change in a majority party in the United States Congress. These are all major topics in GI that physicians should be aware of over the remainder of 2022. Anders Gilberg, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the Medical Group Management Association, spoke with Medical Economics in January to discuss potential revelations coming this year.

Inflation may lead to major cuts

Currently, the U.S. inflation rate sits at 7.9-percent, according to the U.S. Inflation Calculator. This was the highest 12-month rise since July 1982 according to CNBC.com. The impact of this inflation has led to drastic increases in pricing for healthcare providers, especially in physician and staff recruitment. Shortages in electronics, such as microchips, are also driving up prices for essential tools and goods.

Laura Dryda of Becker’s ASC Review added that in 2021 congress approved a large amount of funding for the American Rescue Plan, and delayed a Medicare pay cut for physicians. In 2022, the U.S. government is once again discussing potential pay cuts to help ease the burden on the country.

Potential swings in congress may slow policy implementation

Midterm elections are on the horizon in 2022, as 469 seats (34 senate and all 435 House seats) are up for reelection this year, according to Ballotpedia. There is a potential for a major shift in the ideology of congress, leading to contrasting ideas.

A major swing in numbers may make new legislation slow to pass, and lengthen discussions on major topics, including healthcare. Physicians should keep a close eye on the results of local and national elections. This is because new representatives may bring about new opportunities in the future.

The end of the COVID-19 pandemic?

It is likely COVID-19 will never be completely eradicated. However, there is a potential for the government to end the disease’s status as a public health emergency. This is one of the major topics in GI medicine as well as medicine on a macroscopic level. Gilberg doesn’t personally believe the switch will be made in 2022. However, one potential change that could come as a result is a dip in telehealth funding.

“When I talk to folks, and policymakers even, everyone talks about telehealth like it’s a foregone conclusion that telehealth is here to stay,” Gilberg said. “But the way I would characterize it is it’s here to stay if there are payers that will reimburse telehealth in a manner that allows physicians and other providers to deliver telehealth services in a financially viable way.”

A continued grind toward value-based care

Gilberg doesn’t believe there will be much movement toward a value-based care system in 2022. He adds that “75 to 80-percent” of members of the Medical Group Management Association expressed interest in participating in value-based care. However, opportunities for those in non-primary care positions remain limited.

To accelerate a move to a value-based care system, Gilberg believes definitions and plans need to be further refined. While some are beginning to shift, it may be several years before major movement towards the system begins.

As the year progresses physicians may see major changes that can effect how they operate their business.