Perspective: The Wrong Time to Cut Medicare Provider Payments

The incredible job that hospitals and caregivers have done over the past year saving lives, treating very sick patients and protecting their communities has been acknowledged and enabled by Congress through relief aid several times since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As you know, the most recent action — the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act signed into law last week — includes several important provisions which we helped secure. They include more money for the Provider Relief Fund, more money for testing and vaccination efforts, important coverage expansions and a substantial increase in workforce resources, just to mention a few. 

However, one piece of unfinished business is critically important: getting an extension on the moratorium on the 2% across-the-board Medicare sequester cuts from kicking in on April 1 unless Congress acts. This action is worth about $12 billion to the field.

This is the exact wrong time to reduce Medicare payments. We need Congress to stop the cuts from going into effect. And we need your help to do that.  

The House this week passed a bill supported by Speaker Pelosi to continue the moratorium on these cuts through the end of 2021. 

We also have key champions and support for a Senate bill, introduced by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, that would extend the moratorium on the 2% Medicare sequester cuts through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Our mission right now is to build additional support, and, most importantly, make it bipartisan — because we’ll need 60 votes (or 10 Republicans in the Senate) to get this over the finish line. 

In addition, there are several other important items on our “to-do list” that we’d like to see added to this legislation. They include a boost to the Provider Relief Fund and relief for all hospitals with accelerated payment program loans.

We’re working on a number of fronts to make this happen: 

  • We hosted an advocacy briefing on Tuesday and released an Alert and new fact sheets to help you in conversations with your lawmakers.
  • The Coalition to Protect America’s Health Care, of which we are a founding member, is activating its 2.4 million supporters to take action.  
  • And next week, we’ll host a press briefing with hospital and health system leaders who will share their stories on why we need to prevent these cuts, and we’ll release a new report highlighting the continued financial challenges hospitals face.   

But we also need your support. We’ve made it easy for you to send messages — via email, phone and Twitter — to your lawmakers. View our sample messages that you can easily personalize. 

Lawmakers hope to wrap everything up by their Easter recess, so we need fast action. The message is clear: Hospitals simply cannot absorb significant cuts to Medicare reimbursement right now. Please work with us to make sure it’s heard.