This week the House will consider a highly anticipated bill to fully repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, which would otherwise severely cut Medicare physician payments beginning April 1. The Text of the bipartisan legislation, spearheaded by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), is expected early this week with a price tag of approximately $200 billion.
America’s Essential Hospitals expects several provisions in the SGR package that would impact hospitals, including hospital pay cuts and potential changes in short stay policies. Official bill specifics, however, are not yet available.
Senate Democrats are skeptical of the House SGR repeal bill. It is expected to be partially paid for by cuts to Medicare beneficiaries, and it would extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years, as opposed to the four years called for by Senate Democrats. If the bill passes the House this week, it will likely face an uphill battle in the Senate. America’s Essential Hospitals has weighed in with congressional leadership on priorities for essential hospitals and will continue to work with Capitol Hill staff to protect essential hospitals’ best interests.
The House is also slated to consider legislation that would require binding bids for durable medical equipment bidding under Medicare. The bill is expected to pass under a noncontroversial suspension vote.
The House released its fiscal year (FY) 2016 congressional budget resolution on Tuesday. Among other major changes, the resolution calls for Medicaid block grants. The Senate resolution is is also expected this week. Difficult negotiations are ahead, not only between parties, but within the House Republican caucus, on spending for the military and defense and deficit reduction efforts. Budget negotiations are slated to be completed in both the House and Senate before the end of the month. The Senate must also complete a pending vote to put a new U.S. attorney general in place.