Committee Approved: Bipartisan Bills to Improve Medicare, Protect Taxpayers

July 13, 2017 — Blog   

Today, the Ways and Means Committee approved three pieces of bipartisan legislation – two focused on improving Medicare, and one focused on holding the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accountable to taxpayers:

Medicare Part B Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R.3178), introduced by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA), makes a series of targeted improvements to Medicare Part B programs, including expanding access to in-home treatments for patients. The legislation includes several bipartisan ideas from Members of the Committee, including policies reflected in the following bills:

  • H.R. 3161, introduced by Health Subcommittee Chairman Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), which creates a transition payment for home infusion therapies for Medicare beneficiaries to ensure there is no gap in care.
  • H.R. 3172, introduced by Chairman Brady and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), which extends a successful pilot program that allows Medicare beneficiaries with weakened immune systems to receive care in their homes.
  • H.R. 3171, introduced by Reps. Mike Bishop (R-MI) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), which protects access to orthotics and prosthetics for Medicare beneficiaries who need them.
  • H.R. 3166, introduced by Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and John Lewis (D-GA), which improves the accreditation process for dialysis facilities so Medicare beneficiaries with chronic kidney disease living in rural communities can more easily access the treatments they need.
  • H.R. 3164, introduced by Reps. Diane Black (R-TN), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Mike Thompson, and Pat Meehan (R-PA), expands the use of telehealth technologies for Medicare beneficiaries receiving dialysis in their homes.
  • H.R. 3173, introduced by Reps. Kenny Marchant (R-TX) and Ron Kind (D-WI), which puts into law existing regulations to modernize Medicare’s physician self-referral laws, known as “Stark laws.”

As Chairman Brady said:

“From making dialysis treatments more available for patients, to clarifying and putting into law existing Medicare rules related to technical violations of ‘Stark law’ physician self-referral policies – all of these solutions are building blocks to a more modern Medicare program that better meets the health care needs of our constituents. I want to thank all of the members on both sides of the aisle for their hard work and leadership on these solutions.

Ranking Member Neal added:

“I am happy that you and I were able to work together in a bipartisan manner to bring together a number of important bills to improve Medicare Part B … [This bill] includes a common sense transitional policy for home infusion services, improves access to medically necessary prosthetics and orthotics, and addresses accreditation process backlogs for dialysis. It also allows telehealth for patients who receive dialysis at home, and provides more certainty for Medicare providers by clarifying Stark laws.”

Legislation to reauthorize Medicare Special Needs Plans (H.R. 3168), introduced by Health Subcommittee Chairman Tiberi and Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI), extends and strengthens Medicare Special Needs Plans (SNPs) to increase efficiency and improve access to high-quality health care for elderly patients living in poverty or with a chronic illness.

As Chairman Tiberi said:

“This bipartisan legislation sets the SNP program on a better, more permanent, path to integration for the duals population than it is currently on today. And it also pushes SNPs to be more outcome driven when caring for beneficiaries with chronic illnesses who are enrolled in Chronic Condition SNPs … I want to thank all of my colleagues for reaching across the aisle to advance these important Medicare policies.”

Ranking Member Levin added:

“This bipartisan legislation moves forward policies to improve outcomes and care delivery for Americans in Special Needs Plans, which includes those are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid – some of the most vulnerable beneficiaries.” 

Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act (H.R. 1843), introduced by Tax Policy Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), protects small business owners from IRS abuse and helps ensure their assets are not wrongly seized under civil asset forfeiture policies. The legislation followed years of bipartisan hearings and investigations by the Ways and Means Committee to deliver justice to victims of IRS abuse.

As Chairman Roskam said:

“If the IRS had used its civil asset forfeiture authority solely to disrupt criminal enterprises, we wouldn’t be marking up this bill, but of course that’s not what happened. And this is a problem we’ve got to solve … This practice was so inherently wrong that no one rose to the defense of the Internal Revenue Service. And I would like to particularly thank the Ranking Member Mr. Lewis and Mr. Crowley, the lead cosponsor of this legislation. Together we have been fighting this battle for almost two and a half years.”

Rep. Crowley added:

“Although civil asset forfeiture may have begun as a tool to combat criminal activity, it has morphed into a complex process that unfairly entangles innocent individuals. There is no question that these laws are deeply flawed and the process is riddled with abuse. I am proud to work with Congressman Roskam on this legislation, and I look forward to passage of this bill.”

CLICK HERE to learn more about today’s markup.

SUBCOMMITTEE: Health    SUBCOMMITTEE: Oversight