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The moratorium on the 2% Medicare sequester cuts would be extended through the end of the year under a new proposal from federal lawmakers. 

A group of Democratic representatives introduced H.R. 1868 in the House on Friday. At stake is billions of dollars in healthcare funding.

Their measure would extend the temporary suspension of the 2% Medicare sequestration payment reductions through Dec. 31. Overall, the legislation aims to reduce “across-the-board” direct spending cuts for federal programs, such as Medicare. 

Late last year, in response to economic damage caused by COVID-19, Congress agreed to extend the moratorium on the sequestration reduction through March of this year. 

Relief from sequester cuts has been “critical” for healthcare providers during the public health emergency, the American Health Care Association and four other groups noted in a letter to Senate and House leaders last week. 

“This relief helped to improve what was, and continues to be, the relatively dire financial outlook for many of our members,” wrote AHCA, the American Hospital Association, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and the Association for Clinical Oncology. 

They also warned of “overwhelming financial challenges and pressures associated with higher overhead costs due to personal protective equipment and other safeguards, lost revenue due to delayed non-emergent procedures, bonus pay to staff, and many other challenges,” without continued relief. 

“Without future relief to providers, patients’ access to care could be threatened. As such, we respectfully ask that Congress extend the moratorium on the Medicare sequester cuts so that we can continue to care for patients, families and communities,” the groups added. 

The bill’s fate is uncertain but is assured to generate some high-stakes negotiations. It already has opposition from some Senate Republicans regarding statutory pay-as-you-go cuts, a report from Inside Health Policy noted. 

However, the Medicare sequester component of the proposed measure has garnered more support amongst the GOP, the publication explained.