Congress Expected to Extend Moratorium on Medicare Sequestration Cuts Through End of 2021; Claims Hold Begins April 1

March 30, 2021

UPDATE: On Tuesday, April 13, 2021, the House passed the Senate bill to extend the moratorium on the 2% Medicare sequestration cuts through the end of the calendar year. President Biden signed the bill into law on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. CMS has resumed processing claims.

Both chambers of the United States Congress recently passed separate bills to extend the temporary moratorium on the 2% sequestration cut to Medicare reimbursement. The moratorium is currently set to expire on March 31, 2021, and both bills would extend the moratorium until December 31, 2021. However, since the House and Senate legislation differ, further action is needed before the extension becomes law.

In addition to extending the delay of the Medicare sequestration cut, the bill that passed the House would also waive a 4% cut to Medicare payments, along with larger cuts to mandatory programs across the board, scheduled to take effect in 2022. These future cuts were triggered when the American Rescue Plan was signed into law. Under the 2010 Pay-As-You-Go law (PAYGO), spending increases that add to the deficit, such as the COVID-19 relief package, trigger automatic cuts the following calendar year.

While the Senate bill would also extend the delay for the more immediate Medicare sequestration cuts through the end of 2021, it does not address the PAYGO cuts that could slash Medicare reimbursement in 2022.

The House is expected to pass the Senate bill when it returns from spring recess around April 13, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has instructed Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to hold all claims with dates of service on or after April 1, 2021, for a “short period.” The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) will closely monitor this situation and continue to advocate for extended relief from the 2% Medicare cuts in 2021 and the 4% Medicare cuts in 2022.

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