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On The Hill: Medicare and Hospitals, Third-Party Premium Support, VA Hospitals

The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health held a hearing today on hospital issues in the Medicare program with a focus on the two-midnight policy, outpatient observation, and auditing and appeals. The committee is also seeking comments for the record from interested persons and organizations by June 3.

Last week, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) sent a letter to Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) urging CMS to accept payments by third-party nonprofit charitable organizations, which could include providers, that would assist low-income patients with paying for their health care insurance. CMS has given conflicting guidance as to whether providers may assist low-income patients who purchase insurance through the health insurance marketplaces (exchanges) with meeting their cost-sharing responsibilities.

Last week, the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs held a hearing regarding allegations of inordinate treatment delays at several veterans hospitals. The committee subpoenaed Eric Shinseki, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, to testify regarding the issue. Some in Congress have called on Shinseki to resign.

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About the Author

Walsh is the senior manager of legislative affairs for America's Essential Hospitals.