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On the Hill: Senators Lead Campaign Against Site-Neutral Cuts

Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) are spearheading a letter calling on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) not to expand site-neutral payment cuts to grandfathered hospital outpatient clinics, as the agency has proposed for the 2019 Medicare Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS).

The senators urge CMS to respect congressional intent and maintain the current outpatient reimbursement for all current and future services provided at grandfathered facilities.

On Monday, America’s Essential Hospitals issued an Action Alert asking members to encourage their senators to sign the letter.

Senate Passes Opioid Legislation, Nears Vote on Spending Bill

The Senate Monday evening approved 99-1 its long-awaited bipartisan legislative package to combat the opioid crisis.

The Senate legislation lacks two provisions in the House-passed opioid bill, H.R. 6, important to essential hospitals: a partial repeal of the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion and language to align rules on confidentiality of substance use disorder treatment records (42 CFR Part 2) with HIPAA standards. The Senate and House now must reconcile the differences in their bills through conference committee negotiations.

The Senate this week also is slated to vote on a minibus spending bill that appropriates funding for the Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments for fiscal year 2019, which starts Oct. 1. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), head of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, said lawmakers likely will pass the combined spending package by the end of the week.

House Committee Passes Medicaid Bills

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has passed five Medicaid-related bills, including:

America’s Essential Hospitals sent the committee a letter of support for the ACE Kids Act. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now will score the bills before they are brought to the House floor for a vote.

Upcoming Senate HELP Hearings

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a Sept. 18 hearing on reducing health care costs and using transparency to lower spending and empower patients. The committee will hold a second hearing Sept. 27 on reducing health care costs that will focus on improving affordability through innovation.

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About the Author

Erin Delaney is the legislative affairs associate at America's Essential Hospitals.