Senate passes bill to avoid Medicare 2 percent payment cut

March 29, 2021
Keith A. Reynolds

The U.S. Senate passed a bill late last week to avoid a 2 percent cut to Medicare payments.

The house had passed a different bill earlier in March, so that chamber will need to take up the Senate Bill, sometime after Easter. While the cuts are supposed to go into affect on April 1, The American Hospital Association says that CMS will likely delay claims to avoid any cut reimbursement.

“The Senate wisely acknowledged that cutting Medicare payments during a pandemic was ill-conceived policy," said Susan Bailey, MD, the president of the American Medical Association, in a statement. "Physician practices are already distressed, and arbitrary 2 percent across-the-board Medicare cuts would have been devastating. When the House returns after the congressional recess, we hope it will follow suit and pass this needed legislation swiftly and with bipartisan support.”

Anders Gilberg, senior vice president of government affairs for the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), applauded the legislation and other congressional efforts to extend the moratorium in an emailed statement.

“MGMA supports recent bipartisan, bicameral efforts to extend the 2% Medicare sequester moratorium for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency,” Gilberg says in the statement. “MGMA also supports and urges Congress to pass H.R. 1868, which would prevent the projected 4% Medicare spending cut stemming from the American Rescue Plan in addition to extending the 2% Medicare sequester moratorium. Without congressional action, the country’s medical groups will face a combined 6% sequester cut---a payment cut that is unsustainable given the financial hardships due to COVID-19 and keeping up with the cost of inflation.”

In October, the heads of four healthcare organizations are calling on congressional leaders to extend the current moratorium on Medicare sequester cuts into next year and after the COVID-19 coronavirus public health emergency has ended.

The letter says that healthcare facilities and staff have already been hard hit by the pandemic and have incurred significant expense to treat the sick while experience unprecedented losses due to the decrease in inpatient and outpatient services.