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Ways and Means Takes Action to Support Rural Hospitals & Hold IRS Accountable to Taxpayers

July 07, 2016

Today the Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed two bills to protect Americans from Washington overreach.

The Continuing Access to Hospitals Act of 2016 (H.R. 5613), authored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), will protect access to high-quality health care in rural communities by providing needed regulatory relief to Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs). As Rep. Jenkins said: 

“In January of 2014, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services began enforcing a requirement that physicians must supervise outpatient therapy at Critical Access Hospitals and other small, rural hospitals. CMS’s decision meant that routine outpatient procedures, such as undergoing active therapy, would have to be directly supervised by a physician. This decision by CMS would put a severe strain on providers, particularly those in rural areas, while providing no quality improvements for the patients they serve. 

“Most of these outpatient procedures are relatively simple, are very safe, and would not benefit from a federal mandate that requires a physician always be physically present in the hospital. And, as a practical matter, in rural hospitals across America, such a requirement is simply not feasible. There are dozens of critical access hospitals in Kansas that folks rely on for care. Without these hospitals, those folks will be forced to travel farther to get the care they need because critical access hospitals cannot afford to comply with this burdensome rule.”

The Committee then voted on the Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act (H.R. 5523), a bill authored by Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) in response to years of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) abusing its civil asset forfeiture policies. The bill protects small business owners from IRS abuse and helps ensure their assets are not wrongly seized under civil asset forfeiture policies. It would require the IRS to show probable cause that funds were derived from an illegal source and institutes a post-seizure hearing for people whose assets were seized. As Subcommittee Chairman Roskam said:

“When structuring is believed to have occurred, the IRS can use its civil asset forfeiture authority to seize funds in the bank accounts and force the owner of the funds to prove they were obtained legally. Right now I bet most people are thinking, ‘Good, I don’t want terrorists and drug traffickers to have access to that money!’ We can all agree with that. And if the IRS would have used its civil asset forfeiture authority solely to disrupt criminal enterprises, we wouldn’t be marking up this bill.”