Woman wearing blue gown lies in bed with her hand resting on a blanket

The National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation is still waiting to hear from congressional leaders about its request to extend the suspension of the 2% Medicare payment cuts through the end of next year.

NPHI penned a letter last week to House Speaker Nancy Polosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other congressional leaders asking Congress to give hospice providers additional financial breathing room as the pandemic continues.

“We are still facing very significant challenges,” NPHI Founder and CEO Tom Koutsoumpas told McKnight’s Home Care Daily. “Testing is something we have to continue to do all of the time, our personal protective equipment is still critical and we still have referral challenges.”

The 2013 Budget Control Act imposed a 2% across-the-board reduction in payments to Medicare providers, known as sequestration. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provided economic assistance during the pandemic, suspended sequestration from May 1, 2020, until Dec. 31 of last year. Earlier this year, the moratorium was extended until the end of December 2021.

In the letter to congressional leaders, NPHI said the moratorium has allowed members to continue providing care to hundreds of thousands of patients during the pandemic, which has dealt a severe economic blow to nonprofit members who operate on slim profit margins of 1% to 3%.

“Absent additional relief, some providers may be unable to remain financially viable which would have an especially negative impact on individuals in rural and underserved communities,” Koutsoumpas explained in the letter.

Koutsoumpas said while census has improved foursome  hospice providers, many are still repaying accelerated and advanced payments the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expanded during the COVID-19 public health emergency.