March 23, 2021
Senators seek to aid hardest-hit health care providers by redirecting spending
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced legislation today to address looming cuts to Medicare by redirecting a portion of the recently passed $1.9 trillion dollar Democrat spending law.
The Protecting Seniors Access to Health Care Act reallocates $12.3 billion in targeted funding for health care providers impacted by COVID-19. This is the same amount mandated by the automatic 2 percent spending cut known as the sequester. Instead of experiencing automatic cuts, the hardest-hit providers would receive targeted relief.
“That Democrats couldn’t find their way to avoid cuts to Medicare providers fighting COVID-19 during a pandemic in their $1.9 trillion bill is another bad surprise in a bill that was full of them,” Barrasso said. “Democrats previously worked with Republicans to provide critical relief from the 2 percent Medicare sequester. Not this time. The right thing to do now is to take a portion of the funding already appropriated and give it to a high-priority need in our communities.”
“In the last so-called relief bill, Democrats allocated funding for a variety of liberal pet projects, but neglected to address the impending Medicare sequestration deadline. Our legislation fixes the problem that Democrats caused and ensures that seniors are protected,” Cotton said.
Medicare was subject to automatic spending cuts beginning in 2013. This reduction is known as the sequester and reduces payments to Medicare providers by up to 2 percent. Congress previously intervened on a bipartisan basis to stop these cuts.
The sequester was suspended from May 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, through a provision in the CARES Act. Congress then acted once again in the 2020 end-of-year funding bill to continue this relief until March 31, 2021.
The recently enacted $1.9 trillion partisan spending bill did not include relief from the Medicare sequester. As a consequence, Medicare providers will once again experience an automatic spending cut.
The Protecting Seniors Access to Health Care Act provides targeted relief equal to the amount of the sequester. The legislation is completely offset by redirecting a small amount of funding that the most recent stimulus bill provided to state and local governments. The legislation also includes a technical correction for rural health clinics (RHCs), which was included in legislation that recently passed the House of Representatives.
• The American Rescue Plan allowed individuals illegally residing in the United States and inmates like the Boston Bomber to receive $1,400 stimulus checks. The Protecting Seniors Access to Health Care Act would amend the so-called covid “relief” bill to prohibit both incarcerated individuals and those with illegal immigration status from receiving stimulus checks.
COBRA Continuation Coverage
• Starting on April 1, 2021, those who lost their job during the pandemic may be eligible for premium assistance for COBRA continuation coverage for up to six months. Individuals who involuntarily lost their job should have access health care, but the “relief” bill created loopholes for illegal immigrants. The Protecting Seniors Access to Health Care Act would prohibit those residing illegally in the United States from receiving continuation coverage through their employer.