The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), along with a large coalition of health care provider groups, has registered their objections to “arbitrary” cuts in Medicare spending for next year, saying the timing is especially wrong given the fact the country and world is still fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.At issue is this week’s release by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of its Calendar Year 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Final Rule and associated Fact Sheet, which establishes payment rates and other provisions related to Medicare Part B services.Services impacted include those received by residents of nursing facilities, assisted living communities, and residences for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The final rule is effective Jan. 1, 2021, and lists drastic payment rate cuts to physician skilled nursing facility visits, physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, portable X-rays, and other Medicare Part B-covered services. AHCA/NCAL and other health care provider organizations are seriously concerned that during the middle of a global pandemic is not the time to reduce payments to essential Medicare providers by an average of nearly 10 percent and are asking for Congress to include legislation in any year-end 2020 package to prevent these arbitrary Medicare cuts in order to protect patient access to medically necessary services.AHCA/NCAL also urged its members to contact their members of Congress through the association’s Action Center to ask them to stop the Medicare cuts to providers and support the enactment of HR 8702, Holding Providers Harmless From Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020.This bill would provide a two-year reprieve from these cuts “protecting access to essential care for our vulnerable residents until a more permanent solution can be implemented,” AHCA/NCAL said.