The Senate passed a bill last week to mitigate a nearly 10% cut in Medicare physician payments. The Senate voted 59-35 on the bill, granting a one-time exemption so that a debt ceiling increase can go straight to final passage on a simple majority vote, rather than first having to clear a 60-vote procedural hurdle.
The legislation that is on its way to President Joe Biden’s desk will also delay Medicare cuts that would otherwise go into effect on Jan. 1. This includes across-the-board reductions to provider reimbursements as well as separate cuts to physician, hospitals and laboratory services payments, along with stopping the 4% statutory Pay-As-You-Go sequester from taking effect early next year, delaying it by 1 year until 2023.
More specifically, the bill would extend the moratorium on the 2% Medicare sequester cuts until April 1, 2022, and reduce the cuts from 2% to 1% from April 1 through June 30, 2022.
A deal struck by Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ushered in the passage, allowing the increase of the debt limit and still avoiding a fiscal crisis.
“The proposal I worked on with Leader McConnell will allow Democrats to do precisely what we’ve been seeking to do for months… provide a simple majority vote to fix the debt ceiling without having to resort to a convoluted, lengthy and ultimately risky process,” Schumer said.
President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law soon.