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Senate Approves Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Improve Post-Acute Care for Medicare Beneficiaries

September 19, 2014

Washington, DC  – The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed the “Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act),” bipartisan legislation that will strengthen and improve post-acute care for Medicare beneficiaries while bringing about more accountable, quality-driven benefits to patients.  The House passed the bill on Tuesday.

The IMPACT Act of 2014 also strengthens Medicare’s oversight of hospice care by ensuring that Medicare dollars are spent efficiently and that high quality care is provided.

“This bill is critical to driving fundamental reform of care for seniors after a hospitalization.  Working together in an open, transparent way, the Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees were able to produce a bill that will ensure our seniors get the highest quality and most cost effective care possible,” Camp said.  ”The IMPACT Act represents the beginning of a much larger conversation.  We owe it to our seniors to ensure the Medicare program is able to provide the seamless care that we all expect.  This bill is a necessary first step and lays down the foundation of reform that will continue to evolve over the next several years.”

“This legislation aims to significantly improve post-acute care by building on the positive strides we have made in recent years toward more accountable, quality-driven health care,” Levin said.  “The bipartisan, bicameral legislation, crafted with my colleagues on the Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, lays the groundwork for enabling Medicare providers, patients, and their families to make health care decisions that work for them.”

“This bipartisan bill is an important and welcome accomplishment in our quest to provide patients, consumers and the federal government the best tools for evaluating the quality of care patients receive and the way our health care dollars are spent.  It’s also is an example of how members of Congress from both parties and both Houses can come together to address an important need.  I’m looking forward as we build on this experience to achieve additional reforms,” Wyden said.

“Thanks to the IMPACT Act, Medicare patients now have peace of mind that they will have access to the right kind of care at the right time after receiving treatment in a hospital,” Hatch said.  “This is smart policy that will help lay the groundwork for further reforms to the Medicare program to help guarantee its solvency for future generations.  I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues in both the Senate and House on this important initiative and look forward to continuing with our efforts to strengthen and improve the Medicare program for America’s seniors.”

The IMPACT Act moves forward on the long-standing policy goal of collecting standardized data from Medicare post-acute care (PAC) providers.  It will align Medicare PAC providers and create a more accountable, quality-driven PAC benefit.

Specifically, the IMPACT Act requires data standardization that enables Medicare to:

  • Compare quality across different PAC settings;

  • Improve hospital and PAC discharge planning; and,

  • Use this information to reform PAC payments (via site neutral or bundled payments or some other reform) while ensuring continued beneficiary access to the most appropriate setting of care.

This information will allow future payment reforms to be driven by quality and efficiency while protecting beneficiary access to appropriate services.

The legislation that now goes to the White House is largely a product of a discussion draft in March that was shaped by input the lawmakers received from the post-acute care community.  Last year, the lawmakers invited interested stakeholders to submit ideas on how to strengthen post-acute care, a variety of health care services that support a patient’s continued recovery from a serious illness. 

Post-acute care includes services in Long Term Care Hospitals (LTCHs), Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs), Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs), and Home Health Agencies (HHAs).  The IMPACT Act is based on the policy and legislative recommendations of more than 70 stakeholders in the health care community and will help lay the groundwork for the modernization of PAC services within Medicare to ensure the program works better for beneficiaries and taxpayers alike.