The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), joined by a group of likeminded organizations, has written to congressional leaders to urge them to extend the current two percent Medicare sequester moratorium for the duration of the COVID-19 PHE, and to take action before April 1 when sequestration is scheduled to resume.
NAHC appreciates the bipartisan enactment of The Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act in December 2021, which extended the suspension of Medicare sequestration cuts, pursuant to The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Suppressing sequestration has provided critical relief in our ongoing battle against COVID-19 and its variants, including Omicron, and enabled health care providers across the country to continue serving their patients and communities. We believe it is time for Congress to revisit the extension’s prescribed structure under which sequestration payment reductions will soon resume, and instead extend the full two percent Medicare sequester moratorium for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE).
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress has ensured that frontline health care providers have the resources necessary to keep our doors open to care for both COVID and non-COVID patients alike. While we are encouraged that the worst days of the Omicron variant are hopefully behind us, it is also abundantly clear that daily COVID infection rates, hospitalizations, and deaths remain exceedingly high. Though we strive towards learning to live with COVID in an endemic state, it is likely premature to declare victory over the pandemic.
On February 18, President Biden renewed the COVID-19 National Emergency declaration beyond March 1, 2022, writing that “more than 900,000 people in this Nation have perished from the disease, and it is essential to continue to combat and respond to COVID-19 with the full capacity and capability of the Federal Government.” Along those lines, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recently indicated that the COVID-19 PHE will likely be renewed for an additional 90 days beyond the current expiration date in April 2022.
The Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act authorized a three-month delay of two percent Medicare sequester payment reductions (January 1, 2022 – March 31, 2022), followed by a three-month, one percent reduction in Medicare sequester payment reductions (April 1, 2022 – June 30, 2022). The resumption of the Medicare sequester before the end of the PHE would unnecessarily hinder our caregiving abilities, especially when the emergence of a new, potentially more dangerous and/or contagious variant continues to loom.
Consequently, NAHC believes it is vitally important to extend the current two percent Medicare sequester moratorium for the duration of the COVID-19 PHE, and to take action before April 1 when sequestration is scheduled to resume.
Full list of organizations signing the letter:
- National Association for Home Care & Hospice
- Ambulatory Surgery Center Association
- American Academy of Dermatology Association
- American Academy of Family Physicians
- American Academy of Ophthalmology
- American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
- American Association for Homecare
- American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology
- American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons
- American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
- American College of Gastroenterology
- American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians
- American College of Radiology
- American College of Surgeons
- American Medical Association
- American Medical Group Association
- American Nurses Association
- American Optometric Association
- American Physical Therapy Association
- American Society for Radiation Oncology
- American Society of Anesthesiologists
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
- America’s Essential Hospitals
- Association of American Medical Colleges
- Better Medicare Alliance
- Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
- Brain Injury Association of America
- Federation of American Hospitals
- Healthcare Leadership Council
- Medical Group Management Association
- National Association for the Support of Long Term Care
- Outpatient Ophthalmic Surgery Society
- Premier healthcare alliance
- Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association
- Vizient, Inc.