Looming Medicare payment cuts to more than a million health care providers, many reeling from the economic impact of COVID-19, may cause practice closings, service reductions, job losses and decreased access to care for seniors. With the cuts scheduled to start January 1, nearly 400 national, regional, state, and local medical organizations and 329 members of Congress are calling for action to #StopTheCuts before Congress adjourns.
The final 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule rule (MPFS) establishes new office and outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) coding changes, which will increase E/M payments to primary care and other office-based providers. However, more than one million health care providers face payment cuts as high as 10% due to federal budget neutrality requirements.
While the COVID-19 pandemic rages and wreaks havoc on the health care system, providers continue to contend with overflowing hospitals and the financial impact of the spring-summer government-recommended shutdown of most non-urgent medical care. Against this backdrop, double-digit Medicare cuts will be devastating for patients, communities and providers.
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Bipartisan lawmakers in both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives agree. To date, 278 House members have cosponsored legislation and/or signed letters urging their leadership to act before the end of the year. Similarly, 51 senators have signaled their support for resolving this issue in a year-end legislative package.
With the legislative calendar waning, health care professionals call on congressional leaders to include the Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act (H.R. 8702 /S. 5007 ), or similar language, in any must-pass, year-end legislative package.
Failure to act will only result in more practices and institution-based providers furloughing or cutting staff or closing their doors — further reducing access to needed health care for seniors, especially those in rural and underserved areas.