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AAMC Opposes Extension of Medicare Sequester

February 14, 2014—The AAMC Feb. 10 joined eight hospital associations, including the American Hospital Association and the Children’s Hospitals Association, in a letter  opposing a one-year extension of the Medicare sequester as an offset to help pay for an extension of the nation’s debt limit. In the letter, the organizations called the extension of Medicare sequester cuts “bad policy” and urged members of the House to “strongly oppose a proposal to cut funding for seniors’ Medicare to pay for an extension of the debt limit.”

The letter further clarified, “While we do not oppose the extension of the debt limit, we do oppose using Medicare reductions to pay for non-Medicare related spending.”  The groups also reiterated the fact that Medicare is meant to assure seniors access to medical care rather than be looked to as a pay-for for other non-related programs.

While the Medicare sequester extension was not included in the debt ceiling legislation, the provision was used in S. 25, House passed legislation (326-90) to restore $6 billion in military cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) reductions that were included as part of the Ryan-Murray budget deal policy [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 20, 2013].

The COLA legislation also includes a provision that requires the remaining $2.3 billion in Medicare savings to be used to partially offset the costs of passing Medicare physician payment reform legislation or another sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula patch to avert physician payment cuts, such as those scheduled for April 1.

After passage of the House bill, the hospital groups quickly pivoted to the Senate and echoed their concerns in a Feb. 12 letter  urging Senators to “strongly oppose a proposal to cut funding for seniors’ Medicare to pay for the repeal of the reduction in the cost-of-living adjustment for military retirees,” again reiterating “While we do not oppose the repeal of the reduction in cost-of-living adjustment for military retirees we do oppose using Medicare reductions to pay for non-Medicare related spending.”

The groups further stressed the financial burden current Medicare cuts create for health care providers, stating “Hospitals already face $113 billion in cuts that have been imposed over the last three years at a time of enormous change and challenges. We urge you to reject this proposal, which will jeopardize health services for seniors.”

After the House and Senate Feb. 6 reached an agreement on SGR repeal and replacement policy [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 7, 2014], talks of attaching a nine-month SGR patch to debt-ceiling negotiations were briefly considered by House Republicans but ultimately abandoned by leadership. 


Len Marquez
Director, Government Relations
Telephone: 202-862-6281

Courtney Summers
Senior Legislative Analyst
Telephone: 202-862-6042


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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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Jason Kleinman
Sr. Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806