APTQI Applauds Bipartisan Bill to Provide Relief from Severe Medicare Cuts to Specialty Providers
The Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act would ensure continued patient access to healthcare specialties that were slated for major cuts
Washington, D.C. –– Today the Alliance for Physical Therapy Quality and Innovation (APTQI) applauded the introduction of The Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020, a bipartisan bill that will provide much-needed relief to dozens of specialty providers that are scheduled to incur severe Medicare reimbursement cuts amid the ongoing COVDI-1p pandemic—including physical, occupational and speech therapists.
Introduced by Representatives Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN), the bipartisan legislation would stabilize the country’s healthcare system and ensure continued patient access to critical services by keeping funding levels for affected specialties at 2020 levels over the next two years. If enacted, physical and occupational therapists would be spared from a dangerous 9 percent cut that is currently set to go into effect on January 1, 2021.
“With specialty providers like physical and occupational therapists bracing for severe Medicare cuts amid an unprecedented global health crisis, The Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act is a commonsense, bipartisan solution that will protect patient access to the vital services they need to live and live well,” said Nikesh Patel, PT, Executive Director of APTQI. “We commend Representatives Bera, Bucshon, and their colleagues for their leadership in providing this critical relief to ensure specialty providers can continue to safely serve their communities. APTQI urges Congress to quickly pass The Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act during the lame duck session.”
“Doctors are the heroes keeping our families safe during these uncertain times. Cutting their pay now as they care for our loved ones is disheartening and not appropriate,” said Congressman Bucshon. “No doctor should have to worry about large pay cuts while they work to get back on their feet as they continue caring for patients and battling COVID-19 on the front lines.
“As an internal medicine doctor by training, I was glad the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services increased payments for the critical work primary care and other physicians do to keep patients healthy and manage their chronic conditions,” said Congressman Bera. “But cutting payments for other physicians during the middle of a global pandemic will further strain our health care system and the ability for health care professionals to serve their patients.”
The introduction of the bill, which is also co-sponsored by Representatives Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA), George Holding (R-NC), Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA), and Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN), comes as Congress has become increasingly vocal in its opposition to the Medicare cuts to specialty providers. Recently, a bipartisan coalition of 229 House lawmakers sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to include provisions in the next pandemic relief package that would delay these harmful specialty payment cuts. In addition, 157 lawmakers, led by Representatives Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Bobby Rush (D-IL), recently sent a letter to Medicare officials, expressing deep concern over the prospect of undermining healthcare providers amid the COVID-19 public health emergency.
American voters agree. Recent polling data from Morning Consult show senior voters largely support efforts in Congress to prevent the specialty cuts from taking effect in 2021. Data shows 66 percent of senior voters are more likely to vote for candidates who work to prevent the proposed Medicare cuts from being implemented. More than three-fourths (76%) of senior voters polled would support Congress taking action to pass long-term reform that would stabilize funding for primary care and medical specialists.
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