Reps. Bera and Bucshon Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Stop Physician Pay Cuts Under Medicare

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Washington, October 30, 2020 | comments

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Representatives Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN), today introduced bipartisan legislation to provide critical relief to physicians responding to the COVID-19 pandemic who are scheduled to receive Medicare payment cuts next year. The Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020 would ensure payments to these providers are kept stable at 2020 levels for the next two years.

“As an internal medicine doctor by training, I was glad the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services increased payments for the critical work primary care and other physicians do to keep patients healthy and manage their chronic conditions,” said Rep. Ami Bera, M.D. “But cutting payments for other physicians during the middle of a global pandemic will further strain our health care system and the ability for health care professionals to serve their patients. I’m introducing this bipartisan bill with my good friend Representative Bucshon to prevent these cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Doctors are the heroes keeping our families safe during these uncertain times. Cutting their pay now as they care for our loved ones is disheartening and not appropriate,” said Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. “No doctor should have to worry about large pay cuts while they work to get back on their feet as they continue caring for patients and battling COVID-19 on the front lines. I want to thank Representative Bera for working with me on this practical, commonsense legislation that will hold doctors harmless and stave off pay cuts as they continue to be the heroes we need during these challenging times.”

Also leading in this effort are U.S. Representatives Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA), George Holding (R-NC), Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA), and Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN).

Background: Under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, if CMS proposes to significantly increase payments for some services, they need to offset elsewhere via a budget neutrality adjustment under law. CMS previously finalized important increases to office/outpatient evaluation and management services to begin in January 2021. In order to make this budget neutral, CMS is proposing to decrease reimbursements by more than 10% for other services.

Bill: For those providers seeing a payment cut in 2021, this bill would provide a temporary additional payment in the amount of the difference between 2020 and 2021 for two years. Click here to view the legislation, Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020

“The ACS strongly supports the Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020, which would provide a critical lifeline to surgeons who are facing drastic Medicare payment cuts,” said American College of Surgeons Executive Director David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS. “We are grateful to Reps. Bera and Bucshon for introducing this bipartisan legislation and applaud their leadership to ensure patients continue to have access to the surgical care they need.” 

“It is critical for Congress to stop these impending deep cuts to Medicare, which will impact patient access to care, especially those recovering from COVID who need physical therapy,” said American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) President Sharon L. Dunn, PT, PhD. “APTA is grateful to Rep. Bera and Rep. Bucshon for their leadership to prevent these cuts from being implemented on January 1, 2021, and their support of patients, therapy businesses, and providers during these challenging times.”

"America’s neurosurgeons appreciate the leadership and tireless efforts of Representatives Bera and Bucshon to prevent steep and harmful Medicare cuts from going into effect on Jan. 1, 2021,” said John A. Wilson, MD, FAANS, President, American Association of Neurological Surgeons. “These cuts will further strain a health care system already stressed by the pandemic, and the bipartisan Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act is essential to halt these cuts and preserve Medicare beneficiaries’ timely access to care.” 

“The American College of Radiology thanks Reps. Ami Bera, MD (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN) for leading introduction of the Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020. This legislation offers a two-year reprieve from drastic reimbursement cuts that will help providers already financially reeling from the pandemic to remain open and preserve access to care for millions of Americans. We look forward to continued dialogue with Congressional leaders and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as we seek long-term, sensible reimbursement solutions and provide our patients the services they need,” said Howard B. Fleishon, MD, MMM, FACR, Chair of the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Board of Chancellors.
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