Congressional Action on the Medicare Sequester
On March 25, the Senate voted 90-2 to pass an agreement reached by U.S. Senate Leaders Schumer and McConnell to extend the 2 percent Medicare sequester moratorium that was set to expire on April 1. The bipartisan legislation, offered as an amendment by Senators Shaheen and Collins, would provide a nine-month extension of the moratorium, through Dec. 31. It also contains some technical corrections related to rural health clinics and disproportionate share hospitals.
The House of Representatives passed different legislation earlier that would both extend the moratorium through the end of the pandemic and eliminate an additional 4 percent Medicare sequester scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, which was required by PayGo rules to offset part of the cost of passing the American Rescue Plan COVID-19/stimulus package. Consequently, the House will need to pass the Senate language when it returns from its Easter recess in mid-April. The House is expected to vote favorably, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is expected to hold off on processing April claims until then to avoid making reduced payments.
Physician and other stakeholder groups affected by the upcoming 4 percent sequester scheduled for Jan. 1 expect legislation to be considered later in the year to waive those cuts.