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On the Hill: 21st Century Cures, Government Funding

As Congress prepares to wrap up legislative business for the year, both chambers this week plan to vote on a continuing resolution to keep the federal government running beyond Dec. 9.

The continuing resolution is expected to be short-term, funding the government into April 2017.

Also this week, the Senate is expected to pass 21st Century Cures legislation after an overwhelming bipartisan majority passed the bill in the House. Senate passage will clear the measure for the president’s signature. The bill includes a significant victory for essential hospitals: risk adjustment for socioeconomic status under the Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP). America’s Essential Hospitals has long advocated for this measure and issued a statement of support following last week’s House win.

The bill also includes an exemption from scheduled cuts to new hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs) if a facility was considered “mid-build” by Nov. 2, 2015.

In other news,the Senate last week passed S. 2873, the Expanding Connectivity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act, which aims to better integrate the Project ECHO telehealth model into health systems nationwide. Read more about it in this related article.

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About the Author

Jocelyn Wiles is the manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.