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Ways and Means GOP Introduce Health Legislation: Focus on Rural Access, Efficiency

December 11, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Republican Members of the House Ways and Means Committee have introduced a series of health care bills. These initiatives aim to cut excessive red tape and administrative burdens, increase access to care in rural areas, and improve the integrity of the Medicare program. This effort is part of the Ways and Means Medicare Red Tape Relief Project.

Upon introduction of this legislation, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) released the following statement:

“Throughout the 115th Congress, lowering costs and giving families and individuals a choice again over their health care has been a priority of our Committee. We advanced policies that put patients and doctors back in the driver seat and repealed and delayed some of Obamacare’s most harmful taxes—including the individual mandate. We were also able to extend, or make permanent with needed reforms, numerous expiring Medicare payment policies, increasing certainty for America’s seniors.

“As we wrap up this year of historic achievements, these policies we are introducing will build on these successes and continue to create a more convenient health care system for families and providers. By focusing on increasing access – especially in our rural areas – and cutting excessive and burdensome red tape, we can continue to lower costs and make Medicare a more accountable and effective program.”

Background: Bills introduced from Committee Republicans include:

H.R. 7248, the Reducing Administrative Burden and Becoming Increasingly Transparent Act, introduced by Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX). This bill gives Medicare providers a dependable vehicle to submit comments to CMS every year on how to reduce administrative burden in each Medicare payment system. It also gives post-acute care providers a new platform to weigh in on the development of a unified post-acute care payment system, while ensuring that all post-acute care providers are afforded the opportunity to directly engage with CMS.

H.R. 7253, the Remove Extraneous Measures that Obstruct Value and Efficiency (REMOVE) Act, introduced by Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO). This bill codifies all measure removal factors for hospital and post-acute care quality measures, including the newest measure removal factor #8 that weighs the benefits of a measure against the costs of reporting the measure. Additionally, the bill codifies principles for meaningful measures that the Secretary should take into account when selecting quality measures within the Medicare program, including that measures are meaningful to patients and providers, address high-impact measure areas that safeguard public health, are outcome-based where possible, and minimize the level of burden for providers.

H.R. 7247, the Incentivizing Shared Risk in Medicare Advantage, introduced by Chairman Brady and Energy and Commerce Member Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL). This bill clarifies that a Medicare Advantage organization may establish a waiver process to exempt physicians that engage in financial risk arrangements with the plan. Additionally it expresses support for these types of private sector driven arrangements.

H.R. 7249, the Better Prior Authorization Notification Act, introduced by Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY). This bill requires notification to providers and beneficiaries that will be impacted by prior authorization.

H.R. 7250, the Prior Authorization Improvement Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Energy and Commerce Member Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY). This bill requires a study on the feasibility of existing technologies that can help streamline and reduce the burden of prior authorization requests in MA.

H.R. 741, the Rural Hospital Regulatory Relief Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS). This bill permanently extends the application by CMS of an instruction against the enforcement of certain physician supervision requirements with respect to outpatient therapeutic services in critical access hospitals and small rural hospitals.

H.R. 5507, the Critical Access Hospital Relief Act, introduced by Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE). This bill repeals the 96-hour physician-certification requirement for inpatient critical access hospital services under Medicare. Under current law, as a condition for Medicare payment for such services, a physician must certify that a patient may reasonably be expected to be discharged or transferred to a hospital within 96 hours after admission to the critical access hospital.