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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01)

WASHINGTON, DC – This week, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) helped lead a bipartisan letter asking House leadership to quickly act to prevent significant cuts to Medicare reimbursement for many specialist physicians.

Should the scheduled cuts occur, specialty care providers like psychologists, physical therapists, and surgeons could face steep financial challenges in providing essential services to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On January 1, 2021, Medicare’s new Physician Fee Schedule will take effect. The fee schedule is set by the administration’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. While the new fee schedule provides much-needed reimbursement increases for office-based care, at issue is the current requirement that these beneficial increases are paid for with significant cuts to reimbursement of other medical services.  

“We can’t have health care providers taking steep cuts next year while providing their services during a pandemic. We have to preserve reimbursement increases for primary care and office visits while addressing cuts that will reduce access to services like mental health, physical therapy, and surgery in Iowa,” Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer said. “With this effort, over 200 of my bipartisan colleagues and I made it clear that we have to act quickly and do right by all our doctors and the patients they serve.”

“If there ever were a time to protect our health care system, it is during a dangerous pandemic,” Finkenauer said. “Health care providers are already financially, and frankly, emotionally strained while helping save lives and keep folks healthy. It’s time for us to help them help others.”

Finkenauer is one of eight bipartisan members to help lead the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. In total, 229 House members joined the letter.

“In order to safeguard beneficiaries’ access to care during this pandemic, we as Congress should examine possible bipartisan solutions to address excessively steep cuts. We encourage you to incorporate the resulting policy changes in any upcoming legislation moving through the House,” the members wrote. “Health care professionals across the spectrum are reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 emergency as they continue to serve patients during this global pandemic.

On September 24, Finkenauer joined over 160 members of Congress on a bipartisan letter asking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to address the upcoming cuts.

According to an early October Telegraph-Herald article, the proposed reimbursement cut would severely impact physical therapists in northeast Iowa.

Iowa Support for Addressing Steep Medicare Reimbursement Cuts:

“I applaud Representative Finkenauer and her colleagues for addressing the proposed cuts that would lead to significant and potentially devastating losses for psychologists in Iowa and around the country. I fear if these cuts take place it will make it even more challenging for individuals in rural and underserved areas to receive essential mental health services.”

— Benjamin A. Tallman, PhD, Psychologist, Cedar Rapids

“Iowa’s neurosurgeons appreciate the leadership of Representative Finkenauer to prevent steep and harmful Medicare cuts from going into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. Neurosurgeons take care of critically ill patients who suffer from painful and life-threatening neurologic conditions such as traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, debilitating, degenerative spine disorders, and stroke. Without timely neurosurgical care, patients can face permanent neurologic damage or death. These cuts will further strain a health care system already stressed by the pandemic and must be stopped to preserve Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care.”

–– Russell I. Buchanan, MD, FAANS, Neurosurgeon, Waterloo


“Thank you, Congresswoman Finkenauer, for taking the lead on preventing the proposed 9-percent cut to Medicare physical therapy services. This reduction would be devastating to the physical therapy profession and the patients we serve — including here in Dubuque. This issue goes beyond politics and political affiliation; it’s about providing care to folks who need it, and I appreciate your recognition and support.”

–– Wesley J. Wedewer, PT, DPT, Physical Therapist, Dubuque


“While it is certainly a positive that CMS is acknowledging the value of primary providers with increased E/M reimbursement, it is shortsighted to do so at the expense of other physicians in specialty fields.  Such a step adds strain to rural areas and regional hospital systems fighting to ensure both primary and specialty care for their communities.  We applaud this bipartisan group, with leadership by Abby Finkenauer, working towards a goal of appropriate E/M reimbursement while still acknowledging the value and need for specialty care.”

–– Matthew J. White, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Cedar Rapids


“As a physical therapist and professor of physical therapy, I know these cuts would devastate the future of my profession, and, more importantly, directly impact patients’ ability to access physical therapy services as clinics would be forced to close or stop taking Medicare patients. I appreciate Congresswoman Finkenauer and her colleagues for taking this issue seriously, and taking steps to prevent these devastating cuts.”

 — Brad Mensen, PT, DPT, ATC/L, Sports Physical Therapy, Dubuque