Bipartisan legislation introduced to stop Medicare physician payment cuts


Soraya Marashi


U.S. Representatives Ami Bera, M.D., (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon, M.D., (R-IN) introduced bipartisan legislation that will provide critical relief to physicians who are currently scheduled to see their Medicare payment cut by up to 9% next year. The Supporting Medicare Providers Act of 2021 (HR 6020) would extend the 2021 Medicare physician payment adjustment of 3.75% for an additional year.

“As an internal medicine doctor by training, I know that cutting payments for physicians during the middle of a global pandemic will only further strain our health care system and the ability for health care professionals to serve their patients,” said Rep. Bera. “That’s why I’m introducing the bipartisan Supporting Medicare Providers Act of 2021 with my good friend and fellow doctor Rep. Bucshon, M.D. to prevent these harmful cuts from occurring. Our frontline health care workers are heroes keeping our communities safe and healthy during this pandemic, and they deserve our full and unwavering support.”

“Beginning on January 1, 2022, many specialists, therapists and other physicians will be faced with substantial reimbursement cuts – up to 9% for many providers – if Congress does not act. These cuts would make our nation’s doctors work longer hours for less pay during the worst global health crisis of our generation,” said Dr. Bucshon. “I look forward to continuing to work with congressional leaders to find practical ways to pay for this proposal and advance this important bill into law before January 1, 2022.”

Reps. Bera and Bucshon led over 245 Members of Congress in an October 2021 letter urging House Leadership to address the looming Medicare payment cuts to health care providers that will further strain patient access to care.

“The California Medical Association (CMA) is deeply grateful to Congressmen Bera and Bucshon for introducing legislation that will stop some of the Medicare cuts physicians are facing next year.  Physicians who have faithfully served on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and put their lives and their families at risk are exhausted. The viability of our practices have suffered and we are not out of the woods yet. This bill will help to stabilize physician practices so that we can continue to care for our patients,” said CMA President Robert E. Wailes, M.D.

CMA is strongly urging Congress to avert this and other looming cuts to Medicare physician payments. In what amounts to a “perfect storm” of payment reductions going into effect on January 1, 2022, physician practices face Medicare cuts on multiple fronts that amount to a combined 9.75% cut. Physicians are facing the following stack of Medicare financial hits:

  • Expiration of last year’s Congressionally enacted bill to stop the 3.75% payment cuts to the Medicare physician fee schedule. Physicians were facing these cuts due to budget neutrality adjustments in the fee schedule but fortunately, Congress stepped in and stopped the cuts. This is what is addressed by Reps. Bera and Buchon’s HR 6020
  • Expiration of the current Medicare 2% sequestration cut wavier given during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • Imposition of an inadvertent 4% statutory “pay as you go” (PAYGO) budget neutrality sequester resulting from passage of the American Rescue Plan Act. Should lawmakers fail to act, it will mark the first time that Congress has failed to waive statutory PAYGO.
  • A freeze in annual inflation updates for Medicare physicians.

Physician practices are still recovering from the emotional and financial impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency. If left unchecked these cuts could cause a serious disruption in patient access to care.

This press release was provided by the California Medical Association.