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Senate Votes to Extend Medicare Sequester Relief

On March 25, 2021, the Senate passed by 90-2 vote to extend Medicare sequester relief until the end of 2021, temporarily eliminating the 2% across-the-board cut to all Medicare payments. To pay for the extended relief, the bill increases the fiscal year 2030 sequester cuts. The House of Representatives still needs to vote on the bill passed by the Senate, but is expected to pass the legislation when they return the week of April 13 following the Easter recess.

Senator Thune and Senator Rounds supported the bill in the Senate. Read SDAHO’s letter regarding Medicare Sequester Relief to South Dakota’s Congressional Delegation.

Congress first passed Medicare sequester relief during the public health emergency last year, but the relief is set to expire on April 1, 2021. Since the bill passed by the Senate has not been signed into law, the cuts will technically proceed on April 1, 2021. It is expected that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will hold Medicare claims until the bill is signed into law as it has done in the past.

The bill also makes several technical changes to the rural health clinic (RHC) provisions that were included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) of 2021. Specifically, the CAA required that the payment rate for RHCs, including provider-based RHCs certified after December 31, 2019, be capped at $100 per visit beginning April 1, 2021. This rate will increase over time based on the Medicare Economic Index, but will remain well below typical provider-based RHC rates. The bill corrects the December 31, 2019, date to December 31, 2020, and includes both Medicare-enrolled RHCs located in a hospital with less than 50 beds and RHCs that have submitted an application for Medicare enrollment as of that date.

An AHA bulletin describing the changes is available here.

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