The Senate voted Thursday to delay Medicare payment cuts for the rest of the year, a big win for hospitals and providers.
The 2% cuts originally took effect in 2013 but were paused by Congress last year in response to the pandemic and its effect on providers' finances.
The cuts totaling $18 billion were scheduled to resume next week absent congressional action, but providers lobbied hard for an extension of the moratorium, arguing the pandemic continues to negatively impact their bottom lines.
The bill is expected to pass the House before being signed by President Joe Biden.
"America's hospitals and health systems thank the U.S. Senate for working in a bipartisan manner today to extend relief from pending Medicare cuts to doctors and hospitals that would have gone into effect in just a few days," Rick Pollack, CEO of the American Hospital Association, said in a statement.
However, Pollack said AHA would continue to push Congress to pass another measure to prevent a 4% cut to Medicare payments that could occur later this year.
Because the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill recently passed by Congress raises the deficit, Medicare and other programs will face funding cuts at the end of the year under a federal law called PAYGO.
Democrats in the House waived the relief bill from counting toward PAYGO in a bill passed last week that also delayed the 2% Medicare cuts. But it couldn't get the support needed to pass in the Senate, which amended the bill Thursday to only include a delay of the 2% cuts.
Republicans said they don't want to waive PAYGO for a relief bill they did not support.