Senate Passes Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act

December 10, 2021

On Thursday, December 9, SNMMI and more than 300 medical societies rejoiced when the Senate passed the Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act (S. 610). The bill includes:

  • A 3-month delay of the Medicare sequester payment reductions from January 1, 2022, through March 31, 2022;
  • A 3-month, 1% reduction in Medicare sequester payment reductions from April 1, 2022, through June 30, 2022;
  • A 1-year increase, through December 31, 2022, in the Medicare physician fee schedule of 3 percent;
  • A 1-year delay, through December 31, 2022, of Medicare payment reductions to the clinical laboratory fee schedule and the private payer laboratory data reporting requirements;
  • A 1-year delay, through December 31, 2022, of the implementation of the Medicare radiation oncology model; and
  • A $101,000,000 increase in funding for the Medicare Improvement Fund.

The battle to avert various Medicare cuts is ongoing. The Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) has failed to keep up with inflation and larger increases to some providers must be offset by cuts to other providers, due to a budget neutrality provision in statute, further contributing to the financial pressure on health care professionals. Additionally, health care professionals were also facing imminent payment cuts stemming from MPFS adjustments as well as the Medicare sequester and the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) Act. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, enacted on December 27, 2020, contained a 3.75% payment adjustment for all PFS services in CY 2021 as part of the congressional relief provided for the impending payment cuts. This payment adjustment afforded some short-term stability (of one year) for health care professionals struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In October 2021, nearly 250 bipartisan House members signed a “Dear Colleague” letter spearheaded by Reps. Ami Bera, MD (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN). SNMMI—along many of its sister societies, including the American College of Radiology (ACR)—was instrumental in engaging members of Congress to support extending the 3.75% payment adjustment through at least CY 2022. The society also has its own letter-writing campaign and signed onto various letters of support.

We are thankful Congress averted the combined impact of the MPFS cut, Medicare sequester, and PAYGO (at least 9 percent in cuts). Millions of seniors rely on the Medicare program, and we must work to ensure it remains a robust and dependable option for those who need it the most.

A current version of the MPFS may be viewed here.