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On the Hill: DSH Cut Delay in SGR Bill, Mental Health, Trauma

Last week the president signed into law a further delay in cuts to Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments, postponing them until fiscal year (FY) 2017. The law also includes a provision mandating an annual report on Medicaid DSH payments that will help policymakers understand the future need for DSH payments. The legislation was included in a bill that created a one-year patch to the Medicare physician payment system, preventing a 24 percent cut to Medicare physician reimbursement. This is the 17th time the system, which is partially based on the sustainable growth rate (SGR), has been patched in the past 11 years.

The House also passed last week S. 1577, the Children’s Hospitals GME Support Reauthorization Act, which reauthorizes funding for the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education Payment Program through FY 2018. The Senate passed the bill last November, and it now awaits the president’s signature.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing last week on H.R. 3717, Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act to examine federal mental health resources and programs and ways to improve delivery of care and the lives of patients and their families. The committee also held a markup last Thursday, passing the following bills: H.R. 3548, Improving Trauma Care Act, H.R. 4080 Trauma Systems and Regionalization of Emergency Care Reauthorization Act, H.R. 1281 Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act, and H.R. 1528 Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act.

This week the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the president’s budget featuring U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as the primary witness. The House will likely consider Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget, which passed through committee last week.

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About the Author

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

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