ICYMI – President Biden Signs into Law Shaheen-Collins Legislation to Prevent Medicare Payment Cuts to Frontline Health Care Providers
(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, President Biden signed into law legislation led by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) to prevent Medicare payment cuts to health care providers from taking effect for the rest of the year, while health care providers are grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Without this legislation, hospitals, nursing homes, physicians and other frontline health care providers would have faced $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 pandemic. The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and Senate.
As a reminder, 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 worked on legislation to avert those payment reductions.
“I’m pleased the President swiftly signed my bipartisan bill with Senator Collins into law to prevent cuts to Medicare reimbursements from going into effect, which would have been a financial blow to our health care providers in New Hampshire on the frontlines of COVID-19,” said Senator Shaheen. “The COVID-19 crisis has created a surge in operating costs and massive revenue shortfalls for providers across the country – now is not the time to pull the rug out from under them by making payment cuts. Thanks to this bill that’s now law, cuts to Medicare payments are delayed until the end of the year so providers have the resources they need to care for our communities during this global health 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 our bipartisan legislation to extend the moratorium preventing payment cuts to hospitals, physicians, home health providers, and others is now law. 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.