Congressional leaders and the White House have struck a deal to raise the nation’s debt limit and have agreed to spending targets for the federal budget for the next two fiscal years. The draft bill released late last night would extend the debt ceiling to March 2017 and raise the discretionary spending caps imposed in 2011 under sequestration by $80 billion above current levels, split evenly between defense and non-defense spending. It also would stave off an impending increase in Medicare Part B premiums for some seniors. The cost would be offset in part by implementing site-neutral payments for “new” provider-based hospital outpatient departments – those that come into being after the date of enactment of the bill. Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, these departments would not be eligible for reimbursements under the outpatient prospective payment system but would instead be eligible for reimbursements from either the ambulatory surgical center or physician payment systems. The bill also would extend the 2% Medicare sequester for an additional year. The House could vote on the bill as soon as Wednesday night. “The budget deal announced last night comes at too high of a cost to patients who may be left without access to care,” said AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels. “This package cuts health care services for seniors to fund other programs. Continuing to raid the Medicare Trust Fund is irresponsible…Congress and the Administration should not balance the budget on the backs of patients and we urge them to strike the site neutral provisions from the package.”