Committee Approved: Bipartisan Bills to Improve Medicare Programs and Policies

September 13, 2017 — Blog    — Markup   

Today, the Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved three pieces of bipartisan legislation focused on making Medicare work better for patients:

Stark Administrative Simplification Act of 2017 (H.R. 3726), introduced by Reps. Kenny Marchant (R-TX) and Ron Kind (D-WI), builds on legislation passed in July to modernize Medicare’s physician self-referral laws, known as “Stark Laws,” by creating an alternative pathway to resolve inadvertent technical violations.

As Rep. Marchant said:

“These modernizations will alleviate the backlog of burdensome disclosures and allow CMS to focus on the bad actors in our medical system… hard-fought reforms to this process will allow the healthcare providers in our communities to get back to what they do best – treating and healing our constituents.”

Rep. Kind added:

“The Stark Law has been in place for some time now; and let’s not use it as a ‘gotcha’ mechanism to levy huge fines…for very minor violations of the law. We think it’s a very common sense measure with some bipartisan support.”

Increasing Telehealth Access in Medicare (ITAM) (H.R. 3727), introduced by Reps. Diane Black (R-TN) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), allows telehealth services to be included as a basic benefit for Medicare Advantage recipients, rather than a supplemental service.

As Rep. Black said:

“This bill is about updating current law to not just allow, but actually encourage the use of telehealth technology to bring the best healthcare possible to our seniors, while also working to address skyrocketing healthcare costs…. This is a bipartisan bill, it’s a common sense bill, it’s a solution that improves Medicare for seniors, and I urge all Members to support it.”

Rep. Thompson added:

“This is a step in the right direction, and we’re not finished yet. We have a ways to go before we can say we’ve fully empowered providers to use telehealth to deliver timely, appropriate, quality care to their patients.”

Comprehensive Operations, Sustainability, and Transport Act of 2017 (H.R. 3729), introduced by Reps. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Terri Sewell (D-AL), extends the current-law add-on payment for ground ambulance transport program for Medicare beneficiaries. It also requires providers to submit annual cost reports to Health and Human Services to better ensure more accurate reimbursements.

As Rep. Nunes said:

“I have worked very closely with the ambulance industry in my district in order to ensure that the policy enacted from this legislation will provide the resources necessary in order to deliver life-saving care not only to my constituents, but to all citizens across the country. This add-on extension will benefit suppliers that provide care in all areas, including those classified as urban, rural and super-rural, so that broad access to emergency care is guaranteed.”

Rep. Sewell added:

“I’ve learned that for too many of my constituents, their first and most common exposure to the health care industry is in an ambulance. As we continue to work towards meaningful long-term reform, we must provide certainty to the ambulance industry and other health care industries with extenders.”

CLICK HERE to learn more about today’s markup.

SUBCOMMITTEE: Full Committee    SUBCOMMITTEE: Health