The U.S. Senate is expected to pass legislation (already passed in the House of Representatives) that would:
- Implement an additional three (3) month suspension of the two percent (2%) Medicare sequestration payment reductions that were scheduled to begin again effective January 1, 2022.
- Reactivate the Medicare sequestration beginning April 1, 2022, and continuing through June 30, 2022, at one percent (1%).
- Increase the sequestration to the full two percent (2%) effective July 1, 2022.
- Delay implementation of the PAYGO sequestration cuts, which would otherwise have automatically gone into effect due to the increased deficit created by the COVID-19 legislation that passed in March 2021.
Of course, as generally occurs, the suspension of payment reductions is, for now, pushed down the road. The current suspension and delays in sequestration are planned to be recovered by increasing the sequestration in 2030. The legislation delays the PAYGO reductions for only one (1) year; however, history would indicate that PAYGO reductions, triggered by legislation that increases the deficit, are typically suspended repeatedly as necessary.
VACCINE MANDATE ON HOLD
Federal court rulings prohibit the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) from enforcing the mandatory vaccinations on all Medicare providers that are subjected to Conditions of Participation (“CoP”). CMS has issued a memorandum to all surveying agencies dated December 2, 2021, that “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will not enforce the new rule regarding vaccination of health care workers or requirements for policies and procedures in certified Medicare/Medicaid providers and suppliers (including nursing facilities, hospitals, dialysis facilities and all other provider types covered by the rule) while there are court-ordered injunctions in place prohibiting enforcement of this provision.”
A copy of the memorandum is available here. It is expected that many providers will voluntarily begin to self-comply with the provisions of the interim rule that was issued.
Similarly, the status of the Emergency Temporary Standard (“ETS”) issued by OSHA requiring employers with at least one hundred (100) employees to be vaccinated is in question. OSHA has suspended its activities related to the implementation and enforcement of the ETS for the current time.
MEDICARE ENROLLMENT REVALIDATIONS RESUME
CMS has initiated scheduling revalidations which were previously suspended. Even though the COVID-19 PHE has been extended, revalidations of Medicare enrollment are being scheduled. Providers can check if their revalidation is scheduled by accessing the Medicare Revalidation List.