Week in Review and Legislative Spotlight

On March 30, 2011, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies.  Senators Shelby and Moran focused on rural needs with Senator Moran focusing on the future of a carve-out plan for critical access hospitals (CAH) and their correlation to Independent Payment Advisory Boards (IPAB).  The government affairs staff continues to monitor this issue closely.

Important legislation to keep in mind at this time includes:

National Health Service Corps Improvement Act of 2011 (HR 1195)

Bill would amend National Health Service Corps program to include optometry as an eligible profession for purposes of loan repayments, scholarship programs, and primary care payments.

Fix HIT Act of 2011 (HR 1187/S 643)

Bill would direct Medicaid EHR incentive payments to federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics by amending 42 U.S.C. 1396b(t)(6)(A)(i) to specifically state that payments “are paid directly to the federally qualified health center or rural health clinic in which the provider predominantly practices, without any deduction or rebate”.

Rural Representation and Transparency Improvement Act (HR 560)

Amends titles XVIII (Medicare) and XIX (Medicaid) of the Social Security Act to require that the proportion of members of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC) and the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) who represent the interests of health care providers and Medicare beneficiaries located in rural areas be no less than the proportion of the total number of Medicare beneficiaries who reside in such areas.

Accountable Care Organizations

The much awaited Accountable Care Organizations rule was also published this week by CMS.  While much more will follow, we encourage you to review some of the material from the Kaiser Health Network:

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2011/March/31/ACO-rules.aspx *

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Multimedia/2011/March/033111-accountable-care-organizations.aspx *

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2011/March/31/ACO-Documents-In-The-News.aspx * Please contact the NRHA Government Affairs staff at 202-639-0550 with any questions, concerns, or comments. *Provided by Kaiser Health News. (www.kaiserhealthnews.org)

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