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On the Hill: Cures Bill, SES Risk Adjustment, Project ECHO

Congress is out of session this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, but congressional leaders hope to wrap up business before adjourning on or before Dec. 9.

Lawmakers are closing in on negotiations for 21st Century Cures legislation, which could be voted on next week. Congressional leaders also are working to complete a short-term continuing resolution to fund the federal government from Dec. 9 likely through March 2017.

Cures legislation is expected to originate in the House and move to the Senate, with hopes that the upper chamber will accept the House bill without amendment. Other priorities might be attached to the legislation, including the Helping Hospitals Improve Patient Care Act (HIP-C), which passed the House in June.

America’s Essential Hospitals has strongly advocated for HIP-C, as it includes provisions that are critical for essential hospitals: namely, risk adjustment for socioeconomic status under the Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program and an exemption for mid-build hospital outpatient departments under the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System.

Next week, the Senate is expected to vote on S. 2873, the Expanding Connectivity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act, which aims to better integrate the Project ECHO telehealth model into health systems nationwide. Several essential hospitals successfully use this model, which serves as a continuing education tool for primary care providers in rural and underserved areas.

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About the Author

Jocelyn Wiles is the manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.