The U.S. House of Representatives sees the wisdom in extending a payment boost to providers and facilities, and now it's up to the Senate to do the same. If it does, a moratorium on the 2% sequestration reduction could be extended past its March 31 expiration date. Now's the time to speak up.
On March 19, the House voted 246-175 in favor of H.R. 1868, legislation to hold off reinstating a 2% cut required through sequestration, the federal deficit reduction mechanism that's been in place across Medicare since 2013 as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act.
Action now turns to the Senate, where the APTA-supported bipartisan Medicare Sequester Relief Act (S. 748) was introduced by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Susan Collins, R-Me. The bill, which echoes its House counterpart in extending the moratorium, is picking up bipartisan steam, with Sens. Shelly Capito, R-W.Va., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., John Boozman, R-Ark., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., signing on as cosponsors.
The CARES Act passed in March 2020 — the first major COVID-19-related relief legislation — included a temporary moratorium on the 2% sequestration reduction, with a Dec. 31, 2020, expiration date. Congress extended that expiration to March 31, 2021; now legislators are looking to further extend it until the end of the public health emergency.
APTA has joined a wide range of national health care groups urging Congress to extend the moratorium. In a joint letter to congressional leaders, APTA and others point out that while signs of improvement are beginning to be seen, the pandemic still looms large, and "health care providers continue to incur significant expenses to treat COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients."
"The temporary 2% increase in Medicare payment amounts has been critical to physical therapists and physical therapy facilities as they struggle through the pandemic," said Justin Elliott, APTA's vice president of government affairs. "We see the extension of the sequestration moratorium as much-needed relief as we cover from the pandemic, especially given the impact of the cuts that CMS has implemented and that we continue to fight.”
Time To Take Action
Ready to add your voice to the growing support for the temporary sequestration moratorium? APTA makes it easy: Members and nonmembers can send messages to lawmakers by way of the APTA Patient Action Center. Just follow the instructions for contacting members of Congress.