On Oct. 19, 229 bipartisan House members cosigned a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calling on House leadership to pass legislation this year and prevent devastating cuts to many specialties posed by the application of budget neutrality to new Evaluation & Management Code (E/M) changes and other policies proposed by CMS in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Rule scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.
While the new E/M payment policies include improvements for maternity care and much-needed payment increases for physicians delivering primary and complex office-based care, unfortunately a statutory budget neutrality rule requires that any increases in Medicare payments for these office visits known as E/M services must be offset by corresponding decreases across all services. As a result, many specialists are now facing cuts of as high as 11% on Jan. 1, 2021, if Congress does not act. The letter, led by Reps. Ami Bera, MD (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN), exceeds the 218 members needed to pass legislation in the House, and it sends a powerful message to House leadership to act on this priority issue this year to avert the cuts. The AMA worked closely with coalition partners in successfully encouraging a majority of House members to sign on to the letter. The AMA will continue to urge Congress to safeguard Medicare beneficiaries' access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic and pass legislation to prevent these draconian cuts.
The American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, the American Health Care Association and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice wrote congressional leaders this week urging them to extend the congressionally enacted moratorium on the application of the Medicare sequester cuts into 2021 and through the duration of the public health emergency. Together, these organizations provide health care to more than 62 million Medicare patients, and the persistently high COVID-19 rates across the country are stressing the health care system. The letter urges extension of the relief from the 2% sequester cut enacted in the CARES Act, which afforded critical relief during the pandemic to all providers who participate in the Medicare program through the end of 2020. The organizations are grateful that Congress has provided a much-needed reprieve from the Medicare sequestration since May. Without future sequestration relief, however, America's health care safety net could be at risk of collapse.