Stopgap government funding bill leaves billions of Medicare cuts in place

The bill passed by the House and Senate on Dec. 2 to avert a government shutdown does not address billions in Medicare cuts slated to take effect next year. 

The legislation will fund federal agencies through Feb. 18, 2022. However, it does not prevent more than $14 billion in Medicare payment cuts, something hospital groups were urging lawmakers to consider. 

The payment cuts to providers would be reduced through a mandatory 2 percent Medicare spending sequester and statutory pay-as-you-go sequester. Both sequesters are meant to limit federal spending.

Several major lobbying associations, including the American Hospital Association and the Federal Association of American Hospitals, expressed disappointment that the legislation did not address the Medicare cuts.

"It is extremely unfortunate that Congress did not address pending significant Medicare reductions to hospitals and physicians in legislation funding the federal government," the American Hospital Association said in a statement emailed to Becker's. "As hospitals and physicians continue their almost two-year battle against COVID on behalf of patients across the country, including the recent disturbing news about the omicron variant, now is not the time to impose additional financial hardship."

"It is mission critical that Congress find a pathway to stop the PAYGO cuts, as well as extend the moratorium on the 2 percent Medicare sequester and prevent other damaging provider cuts," the Federation of American Hospitals said. "This relief is essential to ensure, for our patients, that hospitals have the resources necessary to serve our communities as they expect and deserve."

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