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Legislation to Prevent Medicare Payment Cuts Introduced

On Oct. 30, eight bipartisan members of Congress — Reps. Ami Bera, MD, (D-Calif.); Larry Bucshon, MD, (R-Ind.); Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.); George Holding (R-N.C.); Raul Ruiz, MD, (D-Calif.); Phil Roe, MD, (R-Tenn.); Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa); and Roger Marshall, MD, (R-Kan.) — introduced H.R. 8702, the "Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act." The purpose of the legislation is to hold health care providers harmless from Medicare payment cuts in 2021 and 2022, while the nation continues to contend with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the legislation:

  • Providers billing for eligible services under Medicare Part B — including certain E/M services — would receive an additional per service relief payment in 2021 and 2022 if the payment for the service would be lower than the 2020 payment rate;
  • The additional relief payment will equal the difference between the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) amount in 2021 and 2022 and the amount the service was paid in 2020;
  • Services with 2021 and 2022 payment rates higher than in 2020 are not eligible for the additional relief payment; and
  • E/M services with higher 2021 and 2022 payment rates than in 2020, including E/M codes paired with the new GPC1X add-on code, would not be eligible for the additional relief payment.

Neurosurgery praised the legislation individually and through our efforts with the Surgical Care Coalition and Reps. Bera and Bucshon, taking the following actions:

  • AANS/CNS letter to Reps. Bera and Bucshon endorsing the bill;
  • AANS/CNS press release announcing neurosurgery's endorsement of the bill;
  • Coalition letter supporting the bill;
  • Surgical Care Coalition press release announcing the legislation;
  • Surgical Care Coalition announces its support for the bill; and
  • Reps. Bera and Bucshon press release unveiling the bill.

As a precursor to the introduction of H.R. 8702, Reps. Bera, Bucshon and others led a Congressional sign-on letter to House leaders urging Congress to act before the end of the year to prevent the cuts. This bipartisan letter was signed by 229 members of Congress. The AANS and the CNS issued a press release thanking them for their efforts.

In the release, Ann R. Stroink, MD, FAANS, chair of the AANS/CNS Washington Committee, stated, "America's neurosurgeons appreciate the leadership of Reps. Bera, Bucshon and others for their efforts on multiple fronts to prevent these harmful cuts." She added that such "an overwhelming showing on this letter to House leaders clearly demonstrates significant bipartisan support for Congress to act this year to protect Medicare beneficiaries' timely access to care."