A provision that changes how hospitals are reimbursed under a new value-based purchasing model will be included in a wide-ranging amendment added to a bill now before the House to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system.
Medicare changes help win AHA backing for reform package
Under a deal cinched early Saturday morning, the Congressional Quality Care Coalition won a measure that establishes $400 million over two years in new money that would be directed toward hospitals in counties that have collectively low Medicare Part A and B reimbursement.
The hospital portion of the legislation proved crucial in sealing support from the American Hospital Association, which on Saturday formally endorsed the legislative package that House leaders expect to pass on Sunday afternoon.
“For hospitals, reform holds the promise of better access to quality care for all,” AHA President and CEO Richard Umbdenstock said in a written statement. “It is critical that we find a way to extend coverage to all and this bill takes a giant step forward.”
Another part of the deal moves up a scheduled bump in Medicare reimbursement to physicians who practice in rural areas. The increase goes into effect in 2010 rather than 2011, as was set out in the Senate's health reform package.
Both measures were part of the original House package that passed last November, but that was reshaped in the Senate's reform bill that passed on Dec. 24.
Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) said the legislation would “put us on a clear path of changing the way we pay for our healthcare in this country, from the current fee-for-service system we have now, which is all volume-based payments, to a quality outcome-based reimbursement system.”
Lawmakers and administration officials worked until 3 a.m. to ensure that the measures would pass muster under the budget reconciliation process--a requirement for passing the bill in the Senate by a 51-vote majority.
The provisions also proved critical in landing support for the broader health reform bill from at lest two Democrats, including Kind and Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon.
“Our group was roughly 30 to 40 members, all of whom felt very passionately about this issue,” Kind said. “I think this resolution was crucial to getting them to a ‘yes' on this legislation.”
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