This story has been updated to reflect comments from Bill Dombi of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.
The House late Tuesday passed a bill by a vote of 222-212 that would delay pending Medicare cuts until April and postpone scheduled PAYGO reductions until 2023. The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation later this week.
The legislation would replace a 2% sequestration reduction set to begin in January with a 1% cut starting in April and a 2% cut starting in July. It also would postpone PAYGO statutory reductions up to 4% until 2023.
Providers praised the bill, “Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act” (amendment to S. 610), which was introduced in the House on Tuesday.
“NAHC commends the House for coming together to address these backward rate cuts,” Bill Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, said Wednesday. “We now encourage our friends in the Senate to follow suit and swiftly pass this bill so home-based care providers across the country can continue to serve their communities without a major payment reduction imminently looming over their heads.”
Edo Banach, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, also commended the House for its action on the bill.
“There are two pieces of good news in this legislation,” he said. “First, it eliminates PAYGO cuts in 2022 — a victory for hospices and Medicare patients. Second, the short delay of sequester cuts shows that Congress has heard our concerns that it makes no sense to put the financial squeeze on Medicare service providers in the middle of an ongoing pandemic public health emergency, a challenging economy and a healthcare workforce shortage.”
NAHC, NHPCO and other home care providers have been lobbying Congress hard for relief on both cuts. Banach noted that the legislation does not go far enough and address “the structural challenges providers face.”
“Legislation passed 10 years ago in an attempt to address the rising costs of healthcare failed to reach that lofty goal, and now it threatens the well-being of vulnerable Americans who are dependent on Medicare,” Banach said. “The fact that we keep having this debate shows that annual, automatic, 2% cuts based on 10-year-old thinking have done nothing to address the core issues. It’s time for Congress to do away with the sequester and instead rethink an approach to controlling the factors that drive the cost of healthcare in this country.”
The legislation would also lower a 3.75% cut to physician payments to 0.75% starting next year.