Medicare spending on cardiology and interventional cardiology services took a significant hit in 2020, according to a new report from the American Medical Association (AMA).
According to the report, Medicare spending on physician services was a whopping $13.9 billion less in 2020 than expected. It is believed that this is mostly—if not fully—due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which started impacting healthcare providers in March 2020.
In cardiology, spending was $718 million less than anticipated ($4,482 vs. $5,200). In interventional cardiology, meanwhile, spending was $188 million less than anticipated ($1,020 vs. $1,208).
The report also showed that Medicare spending largely recovered by the second half of 2020—but it still fell 4% to 15% below expected levels.
“Physicians experienced a significant and sustained drop in Medicare revenue during the first 10 months of the pandemic,” AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD, said in a prepared statement. “Medical practices that have not buckled under financial strain continue to be stretched clinically, emotionally, and fiscally as the pandemic persists.
Harmon emphasized that this trend is one reason he and so many of his colleagues are pushing lawmakers to change course on upcoming Medicare cuts.
“As struggling physician practices face a difficult and precarious road to recovery, now is the time for financial stability in Medicare and the AMA is strongly urging Congress to avert the planned payment cuts,” he said.
The report also highlighted the evolving role of telehealth in modern medicine. While telehealth accounted for 0.1% of Medicare spending before the pandemic, it accounted for 5% in 2020.
The full AMA report is available here.