Collins, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Stop Medicare Physician Payment Cuts

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), John Boozman (R-AR), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and Tom Cotton (R-AR) 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.


“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 Senator 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.”


“Cutting physician payments is the last thing CMS should be doing when we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Patients deserve access quality and affordable health care,” said Senator Boozman.  “This legislation is necessary to achieve this.”


“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,” said Senator Hyde-Smith. “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 Senator 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,” said Senator Cotton.  “Our bill stops these cuts from taking effect and imposing any further burden on our providers during this public health emergency.”


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,” said David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, American College of Surgeons Executive Director


Senator Collins has long been a champion of improving access to health care, particularly in rural and underserved areas.  In an effort to avert destabilizing cuts to medical providers that could harm patients’ access to health care, Senator Collins sent a letter to Senate leaders in October, urging them to advance legislation that would prevent these sharp reductions in payment.


Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN) in October.