Senate votes to avert Medicare cuts

The Senate passed a bill Dec. 9 to prevent billions in cuts to Medicare from taking effect early next year.

The bill halts a mandatory 2 percent federal Medicare spending sequester until April 2022 and stops a 4 percent statutory pay-as-you-go sequester. Both sequesters are meant to limit federal spending.

The bill also reduces the mandatory Medicare sequester to 1 percent from April through June of 2022 and includes a 3 percent increase in pay for providers in the Medicare physician fee schedule. The package also delays the start of the radiation oncology model until Jan. 1, 2023, to give participants the best chance to improve cancer care outcomes. 

Hospital groups, including the American Hospital Association, have been pushing Congress to avert the cuts, saying that without legislative action, Medicare fee-for-service payments could be reduced by $14.1 billion in 2022.

"The AHA appreciates that the Senate, on a bipartisan basis, has joined the House in halting harmful and imminent Medicare cuts to hospitals and physicians," the association said.

The Senate approved the bill in a 59-35 vote. The House approved the bill Dec. 7 in a 222-212 vote. It now heads to President Joe Biden.

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