December 2, 2020
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued the CY 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Final Rule, which will take effect on January 1, 2021. In this Final Rule, CMS is confirming its proposals to update payment policies, payment rates, telehealth policies, and quality provisions for services furnished under the PFS on or after Jan. 1, 2021.
Aegis Therapies has sent several calls to action in previous months regarding the CY 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) cuts and advocating for action to address the significant reductions to reimbursement for physical, occupational and speech therapy services in nursing homes and long-term care settings.
Disappointingly, the Final Rule reflects the previously proposed cuts to many specialty providers, including an estimated 9% cut to physical and occupational therapy services and a 6% cut to speech therapy services. Even though CMS is moving forward with this proposal, ignoring concerns expressed by patients, health care providers and members of Congress, there remains a need for advocacy to continue to #FightTheCut.
The cut, on top of the current economic crisis, is unsustainable, and will disrupt access to necessary services in the middle of a global pandemic. Therapy clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation agencies continue to struggle to stay open, particularly in rural and underserved areas, and Medicare beneficiaries need therapy services. This cut is threatening the health outcomes of our patients by severely impacting access to care and exacerbating the instability of health care providers’ practices.
CMS’ stated goal of the cut is to increase payment for primary care, a policy Aegis and our follow advocates are not opposed to. However, the only way to allow increased payment for primary care without implementing deep cuts to other providers, including therapy, is for Congress to intervene. In order to safeguard beneficiaries’ access to care during this pandemic, Congress must support bipartisan solutions to address these excessively steep cuts.
The Holding Providers Harmless from Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020 (H.R. 8702), would provide critical relief to providers scheduled to receive Medicare payment cuts under the Physician Fee schedule on January 1, 2021 as a result of the evaluation and management (E/M) changes made by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). HR 8702 is bipartisan legislation sponsored by Representatives Ami Bera (D-CA) and Larry Buschon (R-IN) and would ensure that payments to these providers – including rehabilitation therapists, portable x-ray providers, and nurse practitioners – are kept stable at 2020 rates for the next two years.
H.R. 8702 would ensure that payments to providers are kept at 2020 levels for the next two years.Please urge leadership to incorporate H.R. 8702 in any upcoming legislation moving through Congress before the cuts are implemented on Jan. 1, 2021, to prevent further damage and instability to the health care system.
Aegis Therapies Currently has an active campaign to ask members of the House of Representatives to support, and consider cosponsoring, H.R. 8702. That campaign can be found here via the GovPredict platform and instructions on using the platform can be found here.