WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced legislation to prevent the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) planned physician payment cuts scheduled to begin January 1, 2021.
The Holding Providers Harmless from Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020 would ensure payments to medical physicians are maintained at current levels for the next two years.
“Cutting physician payments is the last thing CMS should be doing when we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Patients deserve access to quality and affordable health care. This legislation is necessary to achieve this,” Boozman said.
“If our heroes this year are people who wear scrubs, then it is unconscionable to hit them with Medicare cuts as a New Year’s gift,” Hyde-Smith said. “This legislation needs to be passed before the holidays to provide relief to the very healthcare professionals who bear the burden of fighting this pandemic.”
“Health care providers in North Dakota and across the country face significant financial strain caused by COVID-19. They can’t afford these cuts, and we can’t afford to lose their services,” said Cramer. “Our bill helps ensure these providers can continue the admirable service they’ve displayed throughout the pandemic without having another reason to worry about their bottom line.”
“Many frontline health care providers face substantial Medicare reimbursement cuts beginning on January 1st. Our health care system is already under tremendous strain due to the pandemic. Our bill stops these cuts from taking effect and imposing any further burden on our providers during this public health emergency,” Cotton said.
“These reimbursement cuts primarily fall on the backs of health care providers across non-primary care specialties – from radiology to physical therapy to orthopaedic surgery. If these ill-timed payment cuts go into effect, they could have a devastating effect on providers, health care practices, and, most important, patient access to care,” said Collins. “Our legislation would halt these payments cuts from going into effect at the start of the New Year, helping to ensure that we do not further burden our health care system that is already struggling due to the pandemic.”
The legislation is supported by a number of health care industry groups including the American Medical Association, American Optometric Association, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons.
“Our nation’s physicians are under incredible strain due to COVID-19, and this bill begins to correct a misguided and ill-timed policy that would cut health care spending in the middle of a pandemic. Time is running out to reverse these cuts and protect patients. We thank Sen. Boozman for his leadership on this issue and will continue to partner with him and his Congressional colleagues to protect patients’ access to quality surgical care,” said David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, American College of Surgeons Executive Director.
Last week, Boozman led a bipartisan group of senators calling on Senate leadership to stop the scheduled cuts.
Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN).