AMA Report Continues to Show Changes in Medicare Spending During the Pandemic

As we previously reported, the American Medical Association (AMA) is taking a look at the financial impact COVID-19 has on the spending and use of Medicare physician services.
Their latest report continues to focus on 2020 numbers, this time specifically from the first quarter (January) through the third quarter (September).
Findings indicate that Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) services spending dropped sharply in mid-March, and it reached a low of $845 million in allowed charges for the week ending in April 10 (which was 57% below expected spending of $1.96 billion for the same week). Spending recovered, but it was still down 8% at the end of the third quarter.
The cumulative reduction in MPFS spending through September was $11.5 billion, amounting to a 16-percent reduction in spending for the first nine months. In Ohio, the cumulative reduction was 17%.
Almost half (49%) of the $3 billion spent on telehealth through September was for office visits by established patients. The remaining avenues consisted of phone calls (19%), mental health and behavioral health services (16%), new patient and nursing facility visits (both at 4%), and other (9%).
The AMA will continue to research the impacts of the pandemic, specifically what impacts these changes in utilization will have on Medicare beneficiaries’ health, when spending and utilization will reach pre-pandemic levels, and if pent-up demand will result in a post-pandemic surge in utilization.