Members of Congress are back in their districts for the remainder of the year and will return to Washington on Jan. 3 to convene the 115th Congress. Among the first items of business expected in January will be a vote on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While the details of that package are still unknown, it is widely expected that Congress will delay implementation of the repeal to allow time for a replacement plan to be negotiated. Urge your U.S. Representative and Senators to work to ensure access to care, and address drastic hospital pay reductions outlined in the ACA.
U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Reps. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Joe Crowley (D-NY) are circulating letters in the Senate and House urging the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide flexibility as it issues the final rules implementing site-neutral changes to Hospital Outpatient Departments (HOPDs).
In its proposed rule, CMS would not provide payment to hospitals in 2017 for services provided at off-campus HOPDs that started billing Medicare after Nov. 2, 2015. In addition, off-campus HOPDs that were already billing Medicare (prior to Nov. 2, 2015) could not relocate their facility or expand services, or else they also would be subject to the new payment rate. CMS is expected to issue its final rule by Nov. 1. For more information, see IHA’s issue paper.
Current co-signers in the Illinois Delegation are: Sens. Dick Durbin (D) and Mark Kirk (R), and Reps. Mike Bost (R-12), Cheri Bustos (D-17), Danny Davis (D-7), Rodney Davis (R-13), Bob Dold (R-10), Tammy Duckworth (D-8), Bill Foster (D-11), Randy Hultgren (R-14), Robin Kelly (D-2), Darin LaHood (R-18), Mike Quigley (D-5), Peter Roskam (R-6), Bobby Rush (D-1) and Jan Schakowsky (D-9).
Contact your U.S. Representative now and ask him/her to sign the bi-partisan House letter to CMS urging flexibility in implementing the site-neutral HOPD changes. The deadline for the House letter is Friday, September 30.
As a result of IHA’s intense discussions and negotiations with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) on a framework for maximizing ACA access payments to hospitals, legislation to implement the framework, House Bill 4678, was introduced in the General Assembly. HB4678 also restores state funding for the Illinois Poison Center. On Thursday, June 30 the Illinois House approved HB4678 by a vote of 110-0 and then the Governor signed it. IHA thanks everyone who contacted their state legislators to support HB4678.
Please join IHA in urging the Illinois congressional delegation to co-sponsor the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act (S. 1148/H.R. 2124), which would create 15,000 new physician residency slots across the country.
Today more than ever, Congress must maintain its commitment to support the training of tomorrow’s physician workforce. Given our aging population and the recent coverage expansions enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, there are not enough physicians to meet today’s growing demand for care, much less anticipated future demand. Moreover, the number of available physician training slots at teaching hospitals that are supported by Medicare has been frozen for the last 18 years, drastically reducing hospitals’ ability to train the next generation of physicians. Today, Medicare’s support accounts for less than 30 percent of the total cost of training our physician workforce.
Chicago-area hospitals are doing their part to address the physician workforce shortage and preserving patient access to care. These institutions support hundreds of non-Medicare funded training slots across a variety of settings and specialties, including primary care, at an unreimbursed cost. In 2012, our local hospitals invested more than $388 million on hospital-based education programs to train highly skilled health care professionals in order to meet the region’s growing health care workforce needs by operating medical and nursing schools, running internship and residency programs and providing opportunities to complete clinical rotations, faculty and on-the-job learning experiences. This important legislation seeks to address the physician workforce shortage by creating 3,000 new Medicare-supported physician training positions per year between 2017 and 2021.
Please join IHA in urging members of our congressional delegation to co-sponsor this critical bill.
For more than 20 years, the 340B Drug Pricing Program has provided safety-net hospitals with financial relief from high prescription drug costs. Hospitals use these savings to stretch scarce federal resources to reduce the price of pharmaceuticals for patients, expand services offered to patients and provide services to more patients. In addition, the program generates savings for the federal and state governments.
Please join IHA in urging Congress to reject any proposals that would reduce or scale back the 340B program as it would have a devastating impact for our hospital and metropolitan community.