BREAKING: House Sends Shaheen-Collins Legislation to Prevent Medicare Payment Cuts to Frontline Health Care Providers to President’s Desk
(Washington, DC) – Today, the House of Representatives cleared bipartisan legislation authored by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) that will prevent Medicare payment cuts to health care providers from taking effect, while health care providers are still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Without this legislation, hospitals, nursing homes, physicians and other frontline health care providers will face $12.3 billion in Medicare payment cuts over the next nine months, at a time when these providers desperately need more financial resources to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation previously passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support and will now be sent to the President’s desk for a signature. Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services – heeding calls from Shaheen and Collins – instructed Medicare contractors to hold claims with dates of April 1st, 2021 and after to ensure providers are not harmed by Medicare payment cuts while Congress is completing action to avert those payment reductions. The Shaheen-Collins legislation will suspend the scheduled Medicare payment cuts for the rest of the year.
“Our health care providers have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, working tirelessly to provide urgently needed treatment and care for patients, vaccinate our communities and so much more. Medicare reimbursement payments are helping providers pay for operating expenses and start to recover from revenue shortfalls, which have surged over the past year as a result of COVID-19. Now is not the time to make payment cuts to health care providers when we are still experiencing a global health crisis,” said Senator Shaheen. “That’s why I introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Collins that would delay these looming Medicare payment cuts from taking effect. I’m glad Congress got the job done and is delivering this bill to the President’s desk. I urge President Biden to move swiftly and sign this bill into law to ensure our providers continue to receive crucial support they need to care for our communities during this crisis.”
“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 —17 out of 36—of Maine hospitals finished last year with a negative operating margin,” said Senator Collins. “I am pleased that Congress passed our bipartisan legislation that will extend the moratorium preventing 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.”
Since 2013, Medicare spending has been subject to “sequestration,” a process that implements automatic, across-the-board reductions in Medicare payments to health care providers by up to 2 percent. With health care providers relying on payments from Medicare now more than ever before to help keep their doors open as they provide lifesaving care and treatment to the communities they serve during the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers delayed the Medicare sequester until March 31st, 2021, as part of the government funding legislation passed by Congress and signed into law last December. However, with COVID-19 continuing to persist across the nation, health care providers are facing continued declines in revenue that could jeopardize their operations unless the moratorium on these payment cuts under sequestration is kept in place.
The text of the legislation can be read here.