MSSNY Applauds NY Congressional Members Who Signed Letter Urging Legislation to Prevent 2021 Double Digit Medicare Cuts

For Immediate Release
November 12, 2020

MSSNY Applauds NY Congressional Members Who Signed Letter Urging Legislation to Prevent 2021 Double Digit Medicare Cuts

Statement Attributable to:
Bonnie Litvack, MD
President, Medical Society of the State of New York

“We thank the many members of the New York Congressional delegation who recently joined their colleagues in a bi-partisan letter initiated by Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) and Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) urging that legislation be passed by Congress to prevent double digit Medicare cuts for 2021 as proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that could significantly adversely impact access to care to many seniors.

“The New York Congressional members – both Democrats and Republicans – that signed the letter include Representatives Brindisi, Clarke, Delgado, Jacobs, Katko, S.P. Maloney, Meeks, Morelle, Reed, Rice, Stefanik, Suozzi, and Tonko.

“MSSNY also recently joined with eight other northeastern state medical associations in a letter urging Congress to pass legislation to prevent these cuts that could not come at a worse time as we again confront a surge in COVID-19 cases and practices have not fully recovered from record drops in patient visits.

“As Congress begins to look towards an end of year package to extend funding for the federal government, New York’s physicians working alongside physicians across the country are strongly urging Congress to prevent these cuts to help maintain continuity of care for our patients.”

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Founded in 1807, the Medical Society of the State of New York is the state’s principal non-profit professional organization for physicians, residents and medical students of all specialties. Its mission is to represent the interests of patients and physicians to assure quality healthcare services for all.

Media Contact:
Roseann Raia
Communications / Marketing
Medical Society of the State of New York
865 Merrick Ave.
Westbury, New York
516-488-6100 ext 302

AMA Supports H.R. 8702

Today, a coalition of organizations representing physicians and allied health professionals, including the AMA, sent the attached letter to Congressional leadership expressing support for H.R. 8702, the “Holding Providers Harmless from Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020,” which was introduced by Reps. Ami Bera, MD (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN).

The legislation was drafted in response to the anticipated impact of the 2021 Medicare physician payment schedule rule, scheduled to be released about Dec. 1, that will cause a significant redistribution in payments beginning in January.  In the proposed rule issued last summer, CMS estimated the range of impacts on specialties to range between -11% and +17%, depending on the mix of services provided.

Medicine has been arguing for waiving the budget neutrality requirement, or at least postponing it during the COVID-19 pandemic, given the pandemic’s already severe impact on practice revenues.  However, due to the budget impact and concerns in Congress about setting a precedent of legislative intervention into statutory budget neutrality requirements, a total waiver is no longer being discussed.

H.R. 8702 would effectively freeze payments at 2020 rates for services scheduled to be cut in 2021 for a period of two years, while allowing the planned E/M payment increases to take place as scheduled.  It would also avert steep payment cuts for hospital, nursing home, and critical care visits.  At the end of the two-year reprieve, the full budget neutrality adjustment would take effect.

Importantly, as the attached impact table illustrates, all specialties will benefit from higher average payments under H.R. 8702.  No specialty would experience a negative impact below 0% (as opposed to a cut of 11% under current law) and specialties anticipating total Medicare payment increases in 2021 will see additional increases.  (Columns 3 and 4 show the estimated impacts without and with implementation of H.R. 8702, respectively.)  The legislation is broadly, but not universally, supported by physician organizations.

The pandemic has hit all specialties hard, and there is no question that payment reductions in a program as important as Medicare threaten practice viability and must be stopped.  The AMA is supporting H.R. 8702 because it will stop very ill-timed Medicare payment cuts while allowing scheduled payment increases to move forward.

Final legislation will be crafted by the committees of jurisdiction; they are watching developments on the Bera-Bucshon legislation closely as a potential solution that does not involve an actual waiver of budget neutrality.  We will keep you informed of further developments.