The fiscal 1997 Medicare prospective payment update, slated at 2%, will take effect Oct. 1 as scheduled, saving $180 million hospitals might have lost.
The congressional action was needed because of a bill enacted last year that requires a 60-day review period for all major federal regulations. The new federal fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
Without the rescue, the new payment rates wouldn't have taken effect until Oct. 29, costing hospitals nearly a month's worth of higher payments. The delay was caused partly because the White House budget office didn't declare the PPS regulation a "major" rule until after HCFA's normal rulemaking procedure was already under way.
Hospital groups were concerned that Congress, fearful of disagreements over Medicare, would not address the issue before adjourning for the year.