Senate passes 12-month physician payment fix   04/01/2014
The Senate last night approved and sent to the president a bill that would stave off scheduled cuts to Medicare physician payments through April 1, 2015. Medicare physician payments were scheduled to be cut by 24% today without congressional action. Among other provisions, the bill extends the Medicare-dependent Hospital Program, low-volume adjustment and ambulance add-on payments through April 1, 2015; extends the delay in enforcement of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ two-midnight policy for an additional six months, through March 31, 2015; and prohibits recovery audit contractors from auditing inpatient claims spanning less than two midnights for the six-month period. It also delays implementation of ICD-10 for one year, until Oct. 1, 2015; delays the start of the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital cuts for one year, until 2017; and extends the DSH cuts for an additional year through 2024. AHA members received a Special Bulletin last week with more information on the bill’s hospital-related provisions.
House GOP budget resolution calls for significant cuts to health care   04/01/2014
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) today unveiled a budget resolution for fiscal year 2015 that would cut government spending by $5.1 trillion over 10 years. About $2.9 trillion of the proposed spending reductions would come from health care, much of which is achieved by savings attributed to repealing the coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act while maintaining the ACA’s reductions. The plan also recommends reforming the medical liability system; increasing means testing for Medicare Parts B and D; repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board; and establishing a deficit-neutral reserve fund for a long-term “doc-fix.” Starting in 2024, Medicare would move to a premium support program, with workers currently under age 55 choosing between private plans and a traditional fee-for-service option through a newly created Medicare Exchange. The budget would reduce Medicare spending by a net $129 billion over 10 years. It also would convert Medicaid into a block grant program and reduce federal Medicaid spending and other health programs by $732 billion over 10 years. The House Budget Committee is scheduled to mark up the legislation tomorrow.
AHA RACTrac data collection period opens today   04/01/2014
The AHA encourages all hospitals to submit data to the quarterly RACTrac survey, available today through April 18. Participants are asked to include information on the number of claims withdrawn from appeal to rebill for Part B payment. The free web-based survey helps AHA gauge the impact of Medicare's Recovery Audit Contractor program on hospitals and advocate for needed changes. To register for the survey or for technical assistance, contact RACTrac support at (888) 722-8712 or ractracsupport@providercs.com. For more on the survey, including the latest results, visit www.aha.org/ractrac.