July 15, 2020

Ambitious Congressional Agenda Awaits Returning Lawmakers

Congressional lawmakers are scheduled to return to Washington, DC next week after their two-week Fourth of July district work period or “recess.” With the next month-long recess scheduled to begin in early August, Congress will be looking to address, and possibly complete, funding for federal agencies through the passage of appropriations legislation, as well as additional COVID-related legislation to supplement existing programs and provide dollars for state and local governments.

Although the Democratic majority in the House passed what it believes are necessary and expansive expenditures to continue to assist the country in battling the COVID-19 pandemic in June as part of its HEROES legislation, the bill’s $3 trillion price tag was too steep for the Republican-controlled Senate to seriously consider. Instead, the Senate wants to take a more targeted approach to the next iteration of legislation related to COVID-19 by providing additional funding, extending existing programs and establishing liability protections for businesses operating in the face of the pandemic. Senate leadership believes its legislation would cost roughly $1 trillion.

As Congress works towards passage of the appropriations measures and its next legislation related to COVID-19, the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) will continue to advocate for the inclusion of legislative language that would stop the impending cuts associated with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) 2021 Evaluation and Management (E/M) policy. The ACR is pursuing a provision that would waive the budget neutrality requirements associated with the CMS policy, thus allowing the E/M increases for some medical specialties to go forward while negating the concurrent decreases for other medical specialties, such as radiology.

The ACR will also continue to monitor any effort to include “surprise” medical billing legislation in order to make sure radiologists, other physicians and patients are not harmed by provisions designed to reduce the ability of providers to negotiate fairly with insurance companies to determine appropriate out-of-network payments.

Please continue reading Advocacy in Action eNews for further updates on Congressional actions.