ACP Action Alert: ACP Governors - Join "Write to Congress" Campaign to Halt Physician Payment Cuts, Extend Telehealth Flexibilities and Premium Tax Subsidies!
As the ACP Board of Governors meeting convenes this week in Chicago, we are calling on all U.S. chapter governors to engage with us in a "Write to Congress" campaign to urge lawmakers to act on important legislation this year that will help ensure continued access to care for our patients. Unless Congress steps in to pass legislation, physicians will face Medicare payment cuts later this year and the current-law telehealth flexibilities and enhanced premium tax subsidies will expire by year’s end. With a limited number of legislative days left in this session of Congress, due to the upcoming election, we need your help in urging Congress to act on these critical issues:
- Pass H.R. 369, the Health Care Affordability Act of 2021, which would increase the benefits of the premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act across all income levels and would permanently expand the eligibility for premium tax credits to people with incomes above 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
- Extend current-law telehealth flexibilities for at least two years beyond the declared public health emergency. The CONNECT for Health Act (H.R. 2903/S. 1512) and the Telehealth Extension Act of 2021 (H.R. 6202/S. 3593) would remove arbitrary restrictions on where a patient must be located to utilize telehealth services; enable patients to continue to receive telehealth services in their homes; ensure federally qualified health centers and rural health centers can furnish telehealth services.
- Address harmful Medicare cuts that physicians will once again face this year as a result of complex budgetary rules and systemic flaws within the physician fee schedule. Many physicians are still struggling with the financial challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we want to continue to provide care to our patients both now and beyond the pandemic.
Background: Late last year, ACP supported the Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act (S. 610), legislation that was signed into law to temporarily avert a nine percent cut in Medicare physician payments that was scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2022. These cuts stem from a very complex set of budgetary rules and systemic flaws within the physician fee schedule itself that, unless addressed in a comprehensive way, will continue to plague physicians for years to come. While ACP is working with Congress and allied organizations on long term solutions to address these payment cuts, Congress needs to act in the short term – this year -- to stop these cuts.
ACP also supported provisions in the recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022 (H.R. 2471) that extended critical telehealth flexibilities – on a temporary basis -- for five months beyond the current public health emergency. Telehealth has been a lifeline for our physicians and their patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, facilitating continuity of care while mitigating exposure risks, but the benefits extend well beyond the pandemic.
Thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act, many uninsured and underinsured Americans gained access to expanded tax subsidies and lower premium costs, but only through this calendar year. Without this financial help to assist in their purchase of vital health coverage, those who are the most vulnerable will likely be unable to afford care at a time when the pandemic continues its grip on the nation.
Action Requested: Please send a letter (on behalf of your chapter) to your members of Congress expressing the need to act on these important priorities. A sample letter has been provided for you that can be personalized and that contains blank fields for you to insert specific chapter information. Simply follow the prompts below, and submit your letters electronically.
Please contact Shuan Tomlinson at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about this campaign.