Bipartisan legislation introduced in Congress aims to modernize and upgrade the payment system and facilities of long-term-care institutions.
The billsponsored by Reps. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) and Tom Allen (D-Maine)calls on Congress to establish a statutory, 15-year depreciation schedule for facility improvement and modernization, and create a demonstration project to better train the long-term-care workforce.
On payment changes, the bill would mandate that the CMS annually update consolidated billing rules to reflect changes in the practice of medicine, and cover services typically excluded by Medicares prospective payment system, such as radiation therapy services, certain chemotherapy medications, and all ambulance services.
At a news conference, Pomeroy said the bill would apply to most long-term-care facilities, but that many of the provisions target nursing homes in particular. The bill would cost $2 billion over five years. Similar legislation has been introduced by Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.).
If neither bill makes progress on its own, the hope is some of these long-term-care provisions will end up in a larger bill to reform Medicare, or appear in an omnibus appropriations package by year-end, said Bruce Yarwood, president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, who attended the news conference as a supporter of the legislation. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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