How Long has Medicare Sequestration Holiday Been Extended?

The long and winding saga behind the Medicare sequestration holiday for home health providers and others has come to a close.

The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted by a 384-38 margin in favor of a continued sequestration delay.

The bill was one of two measures introduced since early March designed to delay the return of Medicare sequestration, which is an automatic 2% cut for all health care providers paid through Medicare.

Home Healthcare News’s recent article entitled “Biden, Congress Extend Medicare Sequestration Holiday Through 2021” reports that recently President Joe Biden officially signed the legislation. Because the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been expecting Congress to pass this type of law, it hasn’t been enforcing the 2% cut, despite the holiday’s expiration coming earlier in April.

Organizations, such as the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (PQHH) and others have supported the legislation. CMS has been cutting Medicare reimbursements to home health providers by 2%, as directed by Congress, since 2014. Under the law, payments that exceed Medicare’s cap must be returned to CMS.

In 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act stopped the automatic 2% cut to all Medicare providers. In December, this temporary moratorium was extended through March 2021.

This was intended to let home health providers have the resources to provide care during the COVID-19 emergency, while staying afloat financially.

The legislation will defer $36 billion in previously scheduled Medicare cuts in 2021.

In March, the House passed different sequestration legislation. However, the key difference between the two laws is, in addition to extending the sequestration delay, the previously introduced bill also dispensed with statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) budget enforcement measures.

The PAYGO rule requires new legislation not to raise the federal budget deficit or lower the surplus.

The bill passed last week in the House and signed by the president doesn’t address the PAYGO issue.

Reference: Home Healthcare News (April 14, 2020) “Biden, Congress Extend Medicare Sequestration Holiday Through 2021”

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