The U.S. House of Representatives will vote next week on extending a pause on Medicare cuts to providers, just weeks before they are scheduled to take effect.
The 2% cut, which took effect since 2013, was temporarily lifted by Congress in December in response to the pandemic and its effect on providers' finances.
The cut will take effect again April 1 without congressional action, but hospitals are pushing hard for another moratorium.
"That's the next initiative: to see if we can get a bill passed that delays the sequester cuts," said Tom Nickels, executive vice president for government relations and public policy at the American Hospital Association. "The last thing Congress really wants is a 2% cut to doctors and hospitals in the middle of a pandemic."
AHA is pushing for the pause to extend through at least the rest of 2021.
While patients would be unlikely to see a reduction in benefits or any other direct impacts of sequestration, according to the Congressional Research Service, it would have a large impact on how much providers are paid by Medicare for their services, sending them back to pre-pandemic rates.
The House will vote next week on legislation that will "preclude cuts to Medicare" and "other programs impacted by sequestration," according to an announcement Thursday from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
A senior Democratic aide told Modern Healthcare the legislation will be introduced Friday.
The bill will also exempt the COVID-19 relief bill passed Thursday from deficit-reducing requirements that would have triggered a 4% cut to Medicare payments.
Delaying Medicare sequester cuts typically has bipartisan support, which would be required to pass the Senate, where Democrats have a slim majority.
The AHA estimates hospitals could lose between $53 billion and $122 billion in revenue this year due to the pandemic.