Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced the Medicare Sequester Relief Act, bipartisan legislation that would prevent substantial payment cuts to Medicare payments to health care providers from taking effect during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Since 2013, Medicare spending has been subject to “sequestration,” a process that enacts automatic, across-the-board reductions in Medicare payments to health care providers by up to two percent. During the COVID-19 pandemic, health care providers are relying on payments from Medicare now more than ever before to help keep their doors open as they provide lifesaving care and treatment.
With COVID-19 continuing to persist across the nation, health care providers are still facing declines in revenue that could jeopardize their operations unless the moratorium on these payment cuts under sequestration is kept in place until the end of this crisis.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated just how vital health care providers are to our communities, which is why Congress passed bipartisan sequester relief twice last year,” said Senator Collins. “This bill Senator Shaheen and I introduced would extend the moratorium preventing payment cuts to hospitals, physicians, home health providers, and others as we continue to respond to this public health and economic crisis.”
“Many frontline health care providers in New Hampshire and across the country have incurred significant expenses and face serious declines in revenue over the course of the pandemic. These providers are relying on federal funding like Medicare reimbursement payments to help grapple with the overwhelming health and financial challenges created by this pandemic. For many providers, the looming Medicare payment cuts would pose a further threat to their ability to stay afloat and serve communities during a time when they are most needed,” said Senator Shaheen. “Congress should be doing everything in its power to prevent these cuts from taking effect during these challenging times, which is why I’m introducing this bipartisan legislation with Senator Collins. I urge the Senate to act at once to protect our health care providers and ensure they can continue their work on the frontlines of COVID-19.”
Senator Collins has long been a champion of improving access to health care, particularly in rural and underserved areas. Last month, Senator Collins offered an amendment to replenish the Provider Relief Fund by $35 billion to help hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, assisted living providers and others with the increased costs and lost revenue brought on by the pandemic. She secured a provision in the year-end government funding bill that improved payment reductions for specialty physicians. In addition to sponsoring legislation to avert those destabilizing cuts to medical providers that would have harmed patients’ access to health care, Senator Collins sent a letter to Senate leaders in October, urging them to advance legislation to prevent these sharp reductions in payment.
The text of the bill can be read here.