A broad spending measure that includes a rollback of six out of seven new Medicaid regulations passed the House, giving hospitals and providers respite from a series of rules they said would trim billions of dollars from the program and potentially jeopardize care.
For hospitals, the bill would effectively block three White House-backed regulations that would limit payments to safety net facilities, cut funding for graduate education programs and refigure provider taxes that are used to help offset Medicaid expenses. Three other ruleswhich limit funding for rehabilitation services, certain case-management programs and school-based transportationwere also blocked.
Overall, the bill is a mixed-bag for hospitals, which for months have lobbied hard against the Medicaid measures. While the legislation would block the most devastating of the cuts, the House nevertheless did not include a moratorium on a proposed rule that would limit the types of services that could be provided on an outpatient basis. Nor did the legislation curtail another CMS directive that restricts enrollment in the State Childrens Health Insurance Program. Additionally, a provision that would limit physician ownership of hospitals also got dropped during negotiations between members of Congress and the White House. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill this week, and the White House has said that President Bush would not veto it.
AHA Executive Vice President Richard Pollack lauded the House for stopping many of the Medicaid cuts, but chided lawmakers for not including the physician ownership provision or halting the proposed outpatient regulation. We will continue to advocate on these two issues as Congress works into the fall months, he said. -- by Matthew DoBias