November 18, 2021

Waning Congressional Calendar Could Delay Action on Physician Payment Cuts

With just six weeks remaining in 2021, ongoing congressional debate about the Build Back Better bill — a legislative plan proposed by President Joe Biden that includes funding for COVID-19 relief, social services, welfare and reducing the effects of climate change — is delaying the start of detailed congressional discussions to avoid the implementation of several health provider payment cuts scheduled to begin Jan. 1.

The American College of Radiology® (ACR®) has been working with its provider colleagues and Congress throughout the year to stop a potential cumulative cut in 2022 of nearly 10% for healthcare providers, including radiologists. The looming cut is due to congressional inaction to extend the budget sequester moratorium, waive the PAYGO rule that requires that new legislation, not increase the federal budget deficit or reduce the surplus, and Congress’ failure to extend the 2021 3.75% Medicare conversion factor (CF) increase.

The College continued its leadership of a coalition of physician and non-physician organizations throughout 2021 calling for Congress to extend the 3.75% CF increase it helped enact in 2021 through 2022. ACR advocacy efforts have resulted in a letter to Congress cosigned by more than 100 medical organizations representing greater than one million providers, and a bipartisan letter from 250 members of the U.S House of Representatives members to House leaders. In addition to these letters, numerous meetings with congressional leadership and staff have yielded several verbal commitments to address these pending cuts to protect patient access at care, especially as the nation emerges from a worldwide pandemic.

While the ACR understands legislation to delay the cuts could emerge in the coming days, larger politics and a waning calendar may mean Congress does not stop them by Dec. 31, but possibly address them retroactively in 2022. The ACR and other medical specialty associations will continue to advocate on their members’ behalf, however, to address these cuts prior to the end of the year.

The College soon will activate its grassroots program to urge members to contact their lawmakers to avoid any impending decreases in reimbursement.

Watch for updates and calls to action in Advocacy in Action regarding impending cuts. Also, please send any inquiries to Josh Cooper, ACR Vice President of Government Relations.