Special Advocacy Update

December 9, 2021

In this Issue:

Congress Mitigates 2022 Medicare Cuts After Strong Lobbying Campaign by the CAP

With pathologists facing steep cuts to their Medicare pay next year, Congress passed legislation to mitigate and delay payment decreases to physicians on December 9. The CAP aggressively lobbied Congress to stop the cuts and protect patient access to pathology services before the sharp decreases to payments took effect on January 1, 2022.

Passage of the Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act is a result of advocacy by the CAP and its members, as well as a broad coalition of physician groups led by the American Medical Association. Specifically, hundreds of pathologists spoke with the offices of their members of Congress throughout the last year to get lawmakers to stop cuts that totaled about 10%. Pathologists lobbied on this issue during the CAP’s Hill Day in May in record numbers, a “virtual fly-in” in October, and by responding to grassroots Action Alerts.

After the House approved of the legislation on December 7, the Senate voted on the Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act on December 9. The legislation addresses several pay cuts that impact physicians participating in the Medicare program.

Here are the bill’s main points:

  • Increase payments on the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule by 3% in 2022. The amount is 0.75% less than the 3.75% increase the fee schedule received for 2021.
  • Eliminate the 4% Medicare pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) cut through 2022.
  • Delay cuts to the clinical laboratory fee schedule by one year.
  • Phase in the 2% Medicare sequester cut in 2022. The sequester cut is delayed from January through March, then a 1% reduction will be implemented from April to June. The full 2% cut would be applied from July through December 2022.

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law.

CAP President Emily Volk, MD, FCAP had urged Congress to quickly take up this legislation before the end of the calendar year. “This legislation will mitigate the impact of various payment cuts affecting pathologists and the services they provide to American seniors beginning next year,” Dr. Volk said in a statement. “Our chief concern is that if the Medicare cuts go through in 2022, access to health care services will decrease disproportionally and will grossly affect the physicians caring for our most vulnerable patients.”