House Health Reform Update - Blue Dogs, Negotiated Rates and the Public Option

bluedog With the House’s final health reform bill finalized and released, health reform is one step closer to becoming reality.  Though the Senate has a lot of work to do, the House still plans on bringing their bill to the floor this Saturday.  For rural, the House bill included strong provisions, but also left some out.  However, were it not for the House Blue Dogs, the group of 52 moderate House Democrats, the bill would have been much, much worse.  Notably, the Blue Dogs, many of whom represent rural districts, were concerned with the reimbursement rates set for the proposed public option, which would have set them similar to Medicare rates plus an extra five percent. This payment structure however, in which every provider was reimbursed at the same rate no matter where they lived, would only perpetuate the geographic reimbursement inequalities the NRHA has long fought to eliminate.  In response to this, many members, particularly the Blue Dogs, fought back and suggested that reimbursement should rather be based on geographic factors, and which has been termed as “negotiated rates,” in which CMS would base payments on unique conditions in different areas of the country. Worrying about a lack of support from the Blue Dogs, House leadership ultimately included a negotiated rate payment structure for the public option in its final health reform bill, the Affordable Healthcare for America Act (H.R. 3962).  This was a huge victory for rural, and though the bill is not perfect, this was a significant improvement.  So please join the NRHA in thanking the Blue Dogs for recognizing this problem and fighting to better address rural reimbursement disparities.  Click on the link below for a list of the Blue Dog membership, and please contact them to thank them and urge them to keep fighting to ensure the positive rural provisions are included in the final health reform bill for the President’s desk.

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