Senate Finance Committee Passes SGR Legislation
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
by: VNAA Policy Team

Section: Public Policy and Advocacy




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On Dec. 12, the Senate Finance Committee (SFC) held a markup on legislation to repeal the Medicare physician sustainable growth rate system (SGR). 
 
During the Finance Committee markup, more than 140 amendments were submitted, including a proposal by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to delay Medicare home health rebasing for one year. 
 
In her introduction of the amendment, Stabenow urged her fellow Senate Finance Committee members to support efforts to delay rebasing and expressed serious concern about how rebasing could impact patient access to care. Unfortunately, the Stabenow amendment did not make it into the final SFC proposal that was passed out of Committee. VNAA will continue to work with Sen. Stabenow to push for support of this effort as the SGR repeal bill moves to the full Senate for consideration.
 
In addition to the home health rebasing amendment, three amendments that impact home health and hospice agencies were considered and accepted into the SFC proposal.     
 
The first accepted amendment was introduced by Sens. Thune (R-SD), Casey (D-PA) and Enzi (R-WY). This amendment would create a demonstration project on remote patient monitoring (RPM). Based on the “Fostering Independence Through Technology Act (FITT)”, which VNAA supported, this amendment requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create pilot programs that incentivizes home health agencies to purchase and use Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM). Agencies participating in the pilot would receive an incentive payment based on the savings to the Medicare program as a result of the pilot program. VNAA will work to ensure that this provision remains in the legislation as it moves forward. 
 
The second amendment was offered by Sens. Thune(R-SD), Wyden (D-OR), Roberts (R-KS), Rockefeller (D-WV), Enzi(R-WY), and Stabenow (D-MI). This amendment promotes the use of telehealth in Medicare. The amendment removes certain payment and eligibility barriers for some providers who use telehealth in new payment models as part of the legislation, including but not limited to Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), bundled payment programs, and medical homes.2
 
Finally, the Committee also accepted a hospice amendment filed by Sens. Enzi (R-WY) and Carper (D-DE).  This amendment allows physician assistants to provide and manage hospice care services under Medicare. However, it does not allow physician assistants the ability to order hospice care. VNAA will continue to work with members of the Senate Finance Committee on these amendments and closely monitor for further activity.
 
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