Letter to Hon. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader and Hon. Chuck Schumer, Minority Leader - Boozman, Colleagues Push to Prevent Looming CMS Cuts to Medicare Payments
Dear Leaders McConnell and Schumer:
We write to express our support for addressing upcoming physician payment cuts in ongoing legislative negotiations. We believe these cuts will further strain our health care system, which is already stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and jeopardize patient access to medically necessary services over the long-term.
On December 1, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services finalized the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2021. The fee schedule includes several positive attributes, including improvements for maternity care and much-needed payment increases for physicians delivering primary and other essential outpatient and office-based care to some of our nation's most vulnerable patients. These changes should take effect on January 1, 2021, as planned.
However, a statutory budget neutrality rule requires that any increases in Medicare payments for these office visits, also known as evaluation and management (E/M) services, must be offset by corresponding decreases. As a result, many practitioners including surgeons, specialists, therapists and others face substantial cuts beginning on January 1, 2021, if Congress does not take action to provide relief.
Health care professionals across the spectrum are reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 emergency as they continue to serve patients during this global pandemic. The payment cuts finalized by CMS would pose a threat to providers and their patients under any circumstances, but during a pandemic the impact is even more profound. Therefore, we hope to work with you to address this critical issue.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.