Shaheen, Collins Push Senate Leaders to Delay Payment Cuts to Help Providers Stay Afloat During Pandemic

December 08, 2021

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) today sent a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership urging the extension of the Medicare sequester moratorium as well as the 2021 Medicare physician payment adjustment. 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.

“Both the current moratorium on Medicare sequestration and the 2021 Medicare physician payment adjustment of 3.75 percent are scheduled to expire on December 31, 2021,wrote the Senators. “Without immediate Congressional action, these changes will result in a 5.75 percent reduction in provider payments and billions lost in vital funding. Without immediate action, these cuts will begin just as providers are likely see a surge of patients in the new year.”

“As we continue our work through the end of the year, we urge you to ensure that the moratorium on sequestration and the 2021 Medicare physician payment adjustment are extended through the end of the public health emergency,” the Senators concluded.

In addition to Senators Shaheen and Collins, the bipartisan letter was co-signed by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Angus King (I-ME), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

In April, President Biden signed into law legislation led by Shaheen and Collins 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. The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and Senate. The month prior, 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. Additionally, Senators Collins and Shaheen have spearheaded efforts in Congress to protect the Provider Relief Fund, which has helped prevent medical providers from closing their doors.

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell,

We write to you today to request immediate relief for our frontline health care providers. As we continue our ongoing work to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge you to extend the current moratorium on Medicare sequestration and the 2021 Medicare physician payment adjustment through the end of the public health emergency.

Despite continuous progress to vaccinate Americans, COVID-19 continues to strain the resources of our providers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 7-day moving average of daily new cases remains well above 80,000. Hospitalizations similarly increased by a corresponding 5 percent.  In several states, the availability of intensive care beds is dwindling. As winter sets in, cases are likely to continue to rise as families stay indoors and travel for the upcoming holiday season. We are also hearing concerning reports about the potential impact of the Omicron variant, which the World Health Organization recently warned poses a very high risk of global spread, and which has already been reported in five states in the U.S.

Both the current moratorium on Medicare sequestration and the 2021 Medicare physician payment adjustment of 3.75 percent are scheduled to expire on December 31, 2021. Without immediate Congressional action, these changes will result in a 5.75 percent reduction in provider payments and billions lost in vital funding. These cuts will begin just as providers are likely to see a surge of patients in the new year.

As we continue our work through the end of the year, we urge you to ensure that the moratorium on sequestration and the 2021 Medicare physician payment adjustment are extended through the end of the public health emergency. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

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