House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a blue suit, stands at a podium.

More than 245 Congressional lawmakers are demanding long-term reform solutions to the current Medicare payment system as skilled nursing therapists and other healthcare providers face impending cuts. 

“As Congress begins the complex process of identifying and considering potential long-term reforms, we must also create stability by addressing the immediate payment cuts facing healthcare professionals,” U.S. Reps. Ami Bera, M.D., D-CA, and Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN) wrote in a letter to House leaders Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) over the weekend.

The letter comes as healthcare providers await imminent payment cuts included in the 2022 Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule, released in July by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Early versions proposed lower pay rates for physical and occupational therapists and other therapy services, and extended some telehealth service coverages through 2022.

The combined impact is expected to result in cuts totaling about 2%, which would follow a 9% hit for therapists the previous year.

The congressional letter writers warned that reimbursement has failed to keep up with inflation.

“These cuts will strain our healthcare system and jeopardize patient access to medically necessary services,” they said. 

Healthcare providers are also facing an expiring moratorium on the 2% Medicare sequester cuts, and a 4% Medicare payment cut due to the anti-deficit provision known as PAYGO, or “pay as you go,” which was triggered by the passage of the American Rescue Plan, the lawmakers noted.

“The combined impact of the PFS cut, Medicare sequester, and PAYGO means that all healthcare professionals are likely facing at least 9% in cuts to Medicare payment, unless Congress takes action,” they wrote. 

The American Health Care Association warned Monday that if relief is not provided before the end of the year, the cuts could impact SNF therapy reimbursement, resident access to providers who furnish services to SNFs, and to physicians, portable X-ray and laboratory service providers. 

“We must act before the end of the year to avert the imminent cuts,” Bera and Bucshon wrote. “Otherwise, the profound exhaustion from the pandemic combined with the stress of uncertainty in payments may lead to further retirements, office closures, or reduced staffing, ultimately limiting patient access to care.”