BREAKING: Heeding Calls from Shaheen & Collins, Senate Sends Legislation to Delay Payment Cuts to Help Providers to President’s Desk

December 09, 2021

Earlier this week, Shaheen and Collins sent a letter to Senate leadership, urging Leaders Schumer and McConnell to extend the Medicare sequester moratorium and 2021 Medicare physician payment adjustment.

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) issued the following statements after the Senate cleared legislation that extends the Medicare sequester moratorium, as well as the 2021 Medicare physician payment adjustment until next year. This legislation follows a bipartisan letter the Senators sent earlier this week, urging Senate leadership to delay these payment cuts as providers fight to stay afloat during the pandemic. The legislation originated in the House of Representatives and will next go to the President to be signed into law.

Shaheen and Collins have long called for relief for frontline health care providers across the country that have incurred significant expenses and face serious declines in revenue over the course of the pandemic. As the end of the month approaches, hospitals and doctors face a shortfall of billions of dollars in Medicare payments that have helped them cope with surging costs during the pandemic – unless these cuts are pushed back. Earlier this year, the senators introduced the Medicare Sequester Relief Act, legislation that would prevent substantial payment cuts to Medicare payments to health care providers from taking effect during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Delaying these payments is especially important for New Hampshire, as the Granite State continues to experience the worst surge in new cases in the United States per 100,000 people in the last 14 days.

“As New Hampshire grapples with the worst rate of new COVID infections in the nation, our frontline providers need every resource available to respond to the surge and treat patients. The last thing they should have to worry about is their bottom line when they’re working around the clock to save lives,” said Senator Shaheen. “I appreciate Senate leadership heeding calls from Senator Collins and me to make this a priority. As we face a new, highly contagious variant, we need to ensure that Congress is responding to needs and conditions on the ground. Delaying these Medicare payment cuts is crucial so our providers have the breathing room and financial resources necessary to get to the other side of the pandemic. I’m glad Congress got this done and look forward to the President swiftly signing it into law.”

“At a time when our country is relying so heavily on our health care providers to help get us back to normal, we cannot ignore the financial realities they face.  Almost half of Maine hospitals finished last year with a negative operating margin, and many providers are struggling to stay open,” said Senator Collins. “I am pleased that, following our advocacy, Congress took action to avert harmful payment cuts to hospitals, physicians, home health providers, and others.  I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Shaheen to support health care providers as we respond to this public health and economic crisis.”

Specifically, this bill includes legislation Shaheen and Collins have championed that would prevent Medicare payment cuts to health care providers from taking effect at the end of the year. Both the current moratorium on Medicare sequestration and the 2021 Medicare physician payment adjustment of 3.75% are scheduled to expire on December 31, 2021. Without immediate congressional action, these changes will result in a 5.75% reduction in provider payments and billions lost in vital funding. The legislation passed today would provide relief from the 2% Medicare sequester through March 31, 2022, reducing to 1% relief from April 1 – June 30, 2022.

Shaheen and Collins have historically partnered on this bipartisan priority and successfully delayed these cuts from going into effect last year, which threatened hospitals, nursing homes, physicians and other frontline health care providers from facing $12.3 billion in Medicare payment cuts over nine months at a time when providers desperately needed more financial resources to fight the pandemic.