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Saying that a failure to act would risk patient access to care, a solidly bipartisan group of 46 U.S. senators has called on Senate leadership to make up for payment cuts in the final 2023 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, and to work toward "bipartisan, long-term payment reforms."

In their Nov. 2 letter to Senate leaders Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the senators press for a response to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service's plan to cut the conversion factor, a key element in code valuation, by 4.6%. The reduction would significantly affect 27 specialties, including physical therapy.

"Providers across the country are facing significant financial hardship due to higher practice costs and the impacts of COVID-19," the senators write. "Financial uncertainty due to pending payment cuts will only compound these challenges. It is essential in the coming weeks that we make sure providers have the resources they need to keep their doors open for seniors and families."

The letter urges the Senate to provide additional funding to CMS that would offset the planned reduction. If passed, it would be the third year in a row Congress has been forced to step in to prevent the cuts from happening.

A similar approach is already underway in the U.S. House of Representatives, where a bipartisan bill has been introduced that would provide the additional funding (H.R. 8800). APTA is calling for physical therapy professionals and supporters to advocate for the bill by contacting their legislators via the APTA Patient Action Center.

The letter also echoes a position held by APTA and multiple provider and patient organizations: The entire fee schedule is in need of reform. While an immediate fix is crucial, the letter states, "failure to act on longer-term reforms will undermine Medicare's ability to deliver on its promises to future seniors and generations."

Given the charged political environment of the day, the signatories represent a rarely seen range of bipartisanship, including Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo. Both Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. also signed on.

"The strong support from Senators Debbie Stabenow, John Barrasso, and the 44 other lawmakers sends a strong signal that these Medicare cuts are a serious threat to patient care," said Aaron Bishop, APTA Vice President of Public Affairs. "On behalf of our members and patients, APTA looks forward to continued work with Congress and the administration to lessen the burden on those affected by the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Rule."

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