ACT NOW!  Unless Congress takes action, Medicare reimbursement rates for services provided by psychologists and many other healthcare providers will be cut sharply next year. This is a result of changes that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have proposed making in regards to how Medicare pays for routine physician office visits. 

Reps. Ami Bera, MD (D-CA) and Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN) introduced H.R. 8702, the “Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020,” to prevent these cuts. The legislation would protect psychologists and other Medicare providers from cuts by providing temporary supplemental payments for the next two years to ensure that reimbursements for services were no lower than 2020 levels.

We urge psychologists to ask their House members to cosponsor H.R. 8702 and to ask their Senators to work to enact similar legislation before the year ends.

The CMS-proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2021 includes an updated coding structure for routine outpatient visits provided by physicians and certain non-physician providers, known as evaluation and management (E/M) services. The new E/M billing codes will be simplified and paid at a higher rate than the current codes. Because federal law requires budget neutrality in Medicare payment policy changes, CMS proposed deep cuts to a wide range of services in 2021 to offset the increased payments for outpatient E/M services. 

Our nation’s health care system, its patients, and its providers are struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of this crisis, Congress can provide a critical reprieve for psychologists and other healthcare providers from substantial payment reductions by passing H.R. 8702.