House and Senate Pass Legislation Extending Pause on Medicare Sequestration Cuts

Situation Report | March 29, 2021

Both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have passed legislation pausing the Medicare sequestration cuts for another nine months.

The sequestration cuts, in place since 2014, have been suspended in the pandemic but are set to resume on April 1 absent legislative action in both houses.

Because the Senate and House bills differ, the House will now have to pass the Senate version of the bill, which it expects to do after the April recess, likely during the week of April 12. Among the differences, the House bill would eliminate a budget rule — known as PAYGO, or “pay as you go” — requiring that tax cuts and mandatory spending be paid for by tax increases or cuts. The Senate bill does not include this provision.

HCA has long opposed the automatic 2-percent sequestration cuts that have arbitrarily harmed home care providers amid rising costs, chronic declines in home care base rate updates and, most acutely, the urgent demands of the pandemic.

“Extending Medicare sequestration reductions to pay for non-Medicare programs reinforces a dangerous precedent set last year of siphoning funds from the Medicare Trust Fund for non-Medicare purposes,” HCA and association partners wrote to New York’s Congressional Delegation in 2015 when sequestration cuts were set for extension.