April 20, 2021
On Tuesday, April 13, 2021, after returning from a two-week recess, the U.S. House of Representatives’ first order of business was to overwhelmingly pass HR 1868 to pause the 2% Medicare sequestration payment cuts to physicians. The bill, passed by the House in a 384 to 38 vote, had already passed 90 to 2 in the U.S. Senate.
The law was signed by President Joe Biden on April 15, 2021, and extended the pause on the Medicare reimbursement cut through the end of 2021 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The cost of the pause will be offset by extending the sequester one more year into 2031. The moratorium on the sequestration cuts expired on March 31, 2021, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services held physician claims until Congress finalized the legislation so that all physicians could be paid at the higher rate.
The House had passed HR 1868 a few weeks ago. However, the Senate made changes that had to be reconciled with a second vote in the House. The Senate rejected the House provision that also stopped the additional Medicare 4% payment cuts projected for 2022. The California Medical Association and the American Medical Association will be advocating for Congress to stop those cuts later this year.