Massachusetts Medical Society: Massachusetts Medical Society on federal year-end 2020 legislation: COVID-19 relief, surprise billing

Massachusetts Medical Society on federal year-end 2020 legislation: COVID-19 relief, surprise billing

The Massachusetts Medical Society applauds federal policymakers — and our Massachusetts Congressional delegation, in particular — for advancing legislation that will deliver critical COVID-19 relief to our members and their patients. This bill provides a temporary fix — while the funding levels fall short of a comprehensive COVID-19 response, we appreciate that policymakers recognized their constituents couldn’t wait any longer for some needed relief. We commend legislators for including in the package: funding for testing, vaccine distribution, and contact tracing; small business loan relief; support for childcare and education; mental health and nutrition assistance; extended unemployment benefits; assistance to health care providers via the Provider Relief Fund; and direct payments to individuals who need it most.

We are grateful that some relief was included to mitigate the drastic reductions to physician payment resulting from the CY2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, but more work must be done to alleviate the strain on physicians and ensure the long-term sustainability of our health care system. We hope to continue our productive dialogue on this topic and develop additional creative solutions to protect patient access to care.

In addition, we are glad to see Congress move on an out-of-network billing compromise that protects our patients and holds them harmless from surprise medical bills. The final legislative text is a significant improvement from earlier versions, and we appreciate that feedback from the Massachusetts Medical Society and others in the health care provider community were incorporated into the final version. We look forward to partnering with policymakers to further improve the legislative framework and provide feedback as regulators implement the bill.

Again, we commend Congress for reaching a compromise that will deliver much-needed relief, and we look forward to working with our legislators to enact further relief legislation in the new year.

-David A. Rosman, MD, MBA, President, Massachusetts Medical Society

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