Tester Statement on Vote to Protect Montana Health Care Providers from Medicare Cuts

Legislation to avoid Medicare cuts, preserve enhanced payments through 2022

Facing the threat of significant Medicare cuts to Montana health providers slated to go into effect January 1st, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today voted to protect enhanced Medicare payments through 2022, and issued the following statement:

“Rural hospitals and access to health care are critically important to big and small communities across the state of Montana – they can literally be the difference between life and death for those of us who call rural Montana home. These Medicare cuts that were slated to go into effect without intervention from Congress would have dealt a serious blow to our hospitals’ ability to deliver health care—we simply can’t let this happen. I was proud to vote with a bipartisan group of my colleagues to ensure it didn’t, so our hospitals can continue providing vital services in rural America to the communities that count on it.”

Tester’s vote today prevents several Medicare payment cuts from going into effect on January 1, 2022, including Sequestration, PAYGO, and the COVID-related Physician Fee Schedule Increase. Tester is an original cosponsor of the Protecting Medicare and American Farmers from Sequester Cuts Act (S. 610), which now includes most of his Supporting Medicare Providers Act of 2021 (S. 3314).

Among other things, this legislation helps to support physicians and ensure that hospitals have the resources they need to stay open. Also included in the bill is a provision to raise the debt ceiling, preventing the United States government from defaulting on their current debt obligations. Tester was the only member of the Montana delegation to support this legislation.

Tester has continued to advocate for Montana’s health care providers through the COVID-19 pandemic, and earlier this month announced $67,593,771.06 in Department of Health and Human Services funding for Montana rural health care providers and suppliers through the American Rescue Plan to help mitigate the high cost of health care caused by the pandemic. He also secured $2.5 million in funding for the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to help vaccinate eligible children through last December’s government funding and COVID stimulus bill, and more than $1 million in Coronavirus Assistance Recovery and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act funding to support health care workings in the Billings and Missoula areas. Additionally, he secured funding for Montana telehealth programs in the CARES Act, and continues to fight for those provisions expanding access to telehealth to be made permanent.