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Congress Passes Legislation to Prevent 2% Medicare Payment Cut

On April 13, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved — by a vote of 384 to 38 — legislation passed by the U.S. Senate in March that would delay the 2% Medicare payment sequester cuts for the rest of the year, extending the three-month moratorium of the sequester that was included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260). Endorsed by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), the amended bill, H.R. 1868, forestalled cuts totaling $18 billion scheduled to resume April 1. On April 14, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. signed the bill into law (P.L. 117-7). In late March, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it would hold Medicare claims “for a short period” starting April 1 so providers would not face the 2% Medicare sequester cuts before lawmakers had a chance to take final action on the moratorium extension.

Absent Congressional action, additional Medicare payment sequester cuts will occur on Jan. 1, 2022. These reductions were triggered under a “pay-as-you-go” law when Congress passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (P.L. 117-2). The Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act (P.L. 111-139) requires across-the-board sequestration cuts to Medicare if certain legislation affecting mandatory spending or revenues increases net deficits.

The AANS and the CNS continue to advocate for additional legislation to prevent these and other Medicare payment cuts. To this end, the groups recently led a coalition effort urging Congress to provide an additional $3 billion in funding for the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule in 2022. The neurosurgical societies, along with the AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves, have also committed funds to support the Surgical Care Coalition, which will continue its communications and advocacy initiative to demonstrate the value of surgical care and to prevent steep Medicare cuts.

Click here to read the letter to Congress.