Of the ten counties that encompass the Hudson Valley, all but Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester are categorically considered rural, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Unsurprisingly, rural residents often encounter barriers to healthcare that limit their ability to obtain the care they need. Certainly, the past year and a half tested the limit of patients, as well as overwhelmed hospitals, and physicians too. Luckily, Congress took action earlier this month to delay financial cuts that would have exacerbated already existing healthcare disparities in rural (and urban) areas and would have affected reimbursement to hospitals and physicians. If you’re not familiar with the “Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act” (doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, we know) here is your opportunity to familiarize yourself with this critically important law that’s gained attention and support from many medical professionals.
On Friday, December 10, 2021, the President signed the “Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act,” into law, addressing several Medicare provider payment cuts slated to go into effect on January 1, 2022. The legislation includes helpful provisions for hospitals and providers. Specifically, the Act will:
- Extend the 2% Medicare sequester moratorium until March 31, 2022, re-implementing 1% cuts in the second quarter of 2022, and reinstating the 2% cut subsequently, funded by backend increased sequester cuts in fiscal year 2030.
- Adjust the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) conversion factor by 3.00% in calendar year 2022.
- Delay Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA)-related cuts to clinical laboratory services and the next round of private payer data reporting by one year until January 1, 2023, with the phase-in extended through 2025.
- Delay implementation of the Medicare Radiation Oncology Model until 2023; and
- Delay application of 4% cuts to Medicare and other federal programs resulting from statutory Pay-As-You-Go- (PAYGO) Act requirements until calendar year 2023.
The American Medical Association (AMA) and many others had urged Congress to act to avoid cuts from taking effect at the start of 2022. Many have since spoken out with relief in support of the law. The American Clinical Laboratory Association, which represents Labcorp and Quest Diagnostics, issued a statement applauding the passage of the Act. The American College of Radiology (ACR) also applauds the news but urged lawmakers to look beyond what they described as “short-term” fixes.
Rick Pollack, president, and CEO of the American Hospital Association, said, “The AHA is pleased that the House has recognized that now is not the time to make cuts to hospitals and physicians under the Medicare program. By eliminating a 2% Medicare reduction until April 2022 and stopping the 4% Statutory Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) Medicare cuts from taking effect in early 2022, providers on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 will not face additional imminent financial jeopardy as they continue to care for patients and communities.”
As hospitals and physician practices continue to recover from and navigate the emotional and financial impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency, our team is here to assist in every step along the way. Here at RBT CPAs, we understand the diverse and complicated world of healthcare. Our team of healthcare experts brings industry expertise in reimbursement, regulatory compliance and audit, accounting, and tax services. We will continue to keep you notified of timely news that matters to you and your team, but if you’d like to connect and receive individualized services, please contact us today. If you would like to submit feedback or topic ideas for future articles our team produces, please feel free to TLideas@rbtcpas.com.