This week, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) will likely bring to the floor S. 2110, the Senate version of legislation to permanently repeal and replace the Medicare physician payment formula, which is partially based on the sustainable growth rate (SGR). In addition to permanently replacing the SGR with a new formula, the bill would extend certain health programs supported by America’s Essential Hospitals. Controversially, the cost of the legislation is not offset. The current patch to the SGR payment formula will expire at the end of March. If the Senate bill fails to muster the 60 votes necessary to break a promised filibuster, another short-term (9-12 month) patch will likely be brought up for a vote.
On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on the decreased capacity of inpatient psychiatric treatment in hospitals. The committee cites that over the course of 50 years the number of beds decreased from 559,000 to 43,000, causing psychiatric boarding where patients are left to wait in hospital emergency departments until the appropriate space becomes available. The committee is concerned this takes away from hospital resources and negatively impacts access for patients.