AGS Calls on Congress to Protect our Most Vulnerable Citizens by Preventing Cuts to Key Services

  • .@AmerGeriatrics supports long-overdue improvements in #geriatrics & #primarycare reimbursement in the 2021 #Medicare Physician Fee Schedule final rule, but expresses deep disappointment in cuts to #nursing home, home, & domiciliary services  bit.ly36ERbFm 

New York, NY (Dec. 4, 2020) – The AGS today commends the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for making long-overdue improvements in reimbursement for geriatrics and primary care in the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule final rule issued this week. The AGS has long advocated for appropriately valuing outpatient geriatrics and primary care services and urges Congress to ensure that these changes are fully implemented on January 1, as finalized by CMS. 

The AGS, however, expresses deep disappointment that the final rule fails to address the impending 8 to 10 percent cuts to nursing home, home, and domiciliary services. We ask Congress to act swiftly to waive budget neutrality requirements so that these essential services are available for our frailest older Americans, many of whom reside in nursing homes or are homebound. “Absent Congressional action in the next few weeks, these cuts will disproportionately impact Medicare beneficiaries with complex and chronic conditions, and access to care will be impacted for those that need it most,” said AGS President Annette Medina-Walpole, MD, AGSF. “COVID-19 amplifies the need for these services and the impact of these pending changes. Our frontline clinicians are already facing extremely challenging circumstances as they work to keep our most vulnerable citizens healthy and safe during the pandemic.”

Health professionals providing nursing home, home, and domiciliary services are a small but crucial clinical workforce that has been working tirelessly to care for older Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Subjecting this workforce to a pay reduction at a time when older adults are at higher risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 is unusually harsh and will likely lead to more emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths. Furthermore, this workforce is going to be an essential part of state- and local-level strategies to immunize older adults as the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines begins.

“It is both urgent and necessary that Congress take action now,” said AGS CEO Nancy Lundebjerg, MPA.  “We recognize the enormous impact of supporting all Americans through the COVID-19 pandemic and the toll the pandemic has had on the federal budget, and we understand that Congress may not be able to fully waive budget neutrality. However, we believe it is critical that we protect our most vulnerable citizens receiving care in skilled nursing facilities and home settings.  The AGS will support legislation that protects our frontline clinicians from payment cuts and ensures that older Americans and their loved ones have access to geriatrics and primary care professionals across settings.” 

About the American Geriatrics Society

Founded in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics healthcare professionals that has—for more than 75 years—worked to improve the health, independence, and quality of life of older people. Its nearly 6,000 members include geriatricians, geriatric nurses, social workers, family practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and internists. The Society provides leadership to healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public by implementing and advocating for programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy. For more information, visit AmericanGeriatrics.org.