Following the lead of the Senate, last week the House of Representatives passed a huge bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of the 2023 fiscal year. The information presented below is, to the best of our knowledge, what is the final bill, which is over 4,000 pages long.
Funding the federal government for the 2023 fiscal year was supposed to have been finished by last October 1. However, as has been the case for the last several years, no matter who has been in control, Congress did not get the funding accomplished.
So, as in the past years, it came down to the last few days of December. But Congress did finally pass the needed legislation.
What was passed is important in many ways, not the least of which is that it will avoid another government shutdown. But the legislation also includes important measures regarding Medicare.
The spending bill includes a two-year extension of emergency Medicare telehealth provisions that were put in place during the Covid-19 public health emergency. Without action, those added flexibilities were slated to end 151 days after the public health emergency is lifted.
One important provision in the bill will reduce planned Medicare payment cuts for physicians next year. Medicare payments to physicians and other providers were slated to take a 4.47% cut in 2023 under a Medicare Physician Fee Rule.
However, while the omnibus calls for scaling back the pay cut to 2% in 2023, it would also impose an additional cut of at least 1.25% in 2024. Not surprisingly, physician groups are upset by the measure.
Because the full 4.47% cut was not eliminated, several medical groups have reported they will be forced to make tough business decisions such as limiting the number of Medicare patients served, laying off clinical staff, and closing satellite locations.
Obviously, that is of great concern to TSCL and to seniors everywhere.
Additionally, the bill will delay an estimated more than $100 billion in automatic cuts to Medicare and other mandatory spending programs until 2025. If not for that exception, the cuts would be triggered early next year under the 2010 pay-as-you-go law, which prescribes a reduction in spending for any “debit” balances resulting from tax cuts or spending increases that were not offset and added to the deficit.
The bill also provides extensions of various expiring Medicare and other health care-related provisions affecting Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program and more.
Working to protect and improve Medicare and Social Security will once again be at the top of TSCL’s agenda in the new year.