Hospitals press Congress to end or pause Medicare sequester cuts as they brace for coronavirus impact

Both the AH&LA and AAHOA released statements in support of the President’s call for bipartisan efforts to improve border security and ongoing job growth.
Hospital groups want Congress to erase, at least temporarily, a 2% cut to Medicare payments that was installed during the sequester. (Getty Images/Bill Chizek)

If Congress really wants to help their facilities handle the coronavirus, then they should suspend the Medicare sequester cuts for at least the duration of the pandemic, hospital groups said this week.

Major hospital groups wrote to Congress on Sunday that the next legislative move should include a suspension. Congress is poised to pass its second coronavirus response package this week, but it does not address the 2% cut to Medicare that was installed with sequestration.

“Suspending the sequester and restoring those payments will provide a much-needed jolt of confidence not just for hospitals, but for physicians, post-acute providers, Medicare Advantage plans and so many others who rely on Medicare as a trusted partner,” the groups wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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The American Hospital Association, Association of American Medical Colleges and Federation of American Hospitals wrote the letter.

The House on late Friday passed a package that aims to expand access to coronavirus testing. It also contains paid family leave and enhanced unemployment insurance for furloughed workers.

The bill also boosts federal funding for Medicaid but does not address the sequester cuts.

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The Senate is expected to consider the package this week when it returns Monday from its weekend recess.

Congress also passed a coronavirus funding bill that gave more than $8 billion to the crisis, including more money for testing and development of a vaccine.

But more coronavirus packages are coming.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers Friday that the House is working on a third emergency response package.