April 15, 2021
Congress Passes ASA-Supported Legislation to Delay Medicare Payment Cuts
On Tuesday, April 13, the House of Representatives passed HR 1868, legislation to extend a moratorium on across-the-board sequester Medicare payment cuts. The legislation, which already passed the Senate, was signed into law by the President. While ASA applauds Congress for taking action to support physician practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, ASA remains concerned about the prospects of future cuts and the further undermining of payments for physicians treating Medicare beneficiaries.
The legislation delays Medicare cuts scheduled to take effect April 1 until December 31, 2021. In anticipation of Congress advancing the legislation upon its return, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had previously instructed that Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) hold all claims with dates of service on or after April 1, 2021.
At the end of 2020, Congress took action to delay the sequester and a 2% Medicare payment cuts through March 31, 2021. ASA worked to advance legislation to avoid these payment cuts through grassroots activation of membership and lobbying efforts. Last month, the Senate passed legislation to delay these cuts, but it did not match previously House-passed legislation, so it needed to again advance in the House once it returned to session this week.
Additional Medicare payment cuts of 4% were also triggered from the American Rescue Plan’s deficit spending. To offset the spending, across the board cuts called “pay-go” would take effect January 1, 2022. These cuts would be extremely harmful to physician practices, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Unfortunately, the “pay-go” cuts were not addressed by this legislation but are expected to be addressed separately later in the year.
ASA applauds lawmakers who supported this legislation, and will continue to work to avoid the future Medicare payment cuts.