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Brady Applauds CMS Action to Spur Health Innovation and Improve Access to Care in Rural Areas

April 24, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) released the following statement in response to a proposed payment rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for inpatient and long-term care hospitals:

“I applaud the Trump Administration for their commitment to improving health care for all Americans – especially for those who live in rural areas. Nearly 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas, and this proposed regulation for inpatient and long-term care hospitals represents an important step toward bringing stability and improved access to quality health care for folks in rural America. I also applaud the Trump Administration for taking important steps to promote innovation and competition to ensure Americans have access to transformative medical technology.

“While Democrats this week have called their first hearing to end Medicare as we know it, Republicans – the party of Medicare Advantage, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicare Part D, and the law that created the original protections for pre-existing conditions – look forward to continuing our work with the Trump Administration to improve health care for patients across the country.”

Background: On April 23rd, 2019, CMS proposed a rule that would update Medicare payment policies for hospitals under the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) and the Long-Term Care Hospital (LTCH) Prospective Payment System (PPS) for fiscal year 2020. There are policies in the rule that help to advance certain priorities of Ways and Means Committee Republicans, including: (1) improving health care, including rural health, and (2) promoting competition and innovation.

Rural Americans live in communities with disproportionally higher poverty rates, more chronic conditions, and more uninsured or underinsured individuals. To address these disparities, CMS is proposing to increase the wage index of low wage index hospitals and make changes to the rural floor calculation. CMS is also proposing policy changes to ensure that Medicare payment supports broad access to transformative technologies. These include proposing to increase the new technology add-on payment, which provides additional payments to hospitals for health care services involving new technologies. CMS is also proposing to modernize payment policies for medical devices that meet FDA’s Breakthrough Devices designation to make it easier for breakthrough technologies to access the Medicare program.