Hospital leaders yesterday urged their federal legislators to support certain provisions critical to patients and hospitals before adjourning this legislative session.

They urged federal legislators to continue to encourage the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide flexibility in implementing the “site-neutral” payment provisions of last year’s Bipartisan Budget Act.

As drafted, the agency’s proposals would not directly provide payment to hospitals next year for services provided to patients at off-campus hospital outpatient departments (HOPD) that started billing Medicare after the law was enacted. Off-campus HOPDs that were already billing Medicare as of that date would not be compensated for new service lines nor reimbursed if they relocate or expand their facility.

In recent comments to CMS, the AHA urged the agency to delay implementing the provisions until it can provide fair payment to hospitals for the services they provide.

Hospital leaders also urged their senators to enact House-passed legislation, H.R. 5273, that would adjust the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program for socioeconomic and other social risk factors beyond hospitals’ control. While hospitals have reduced readmissions by 565,000 since 2010, the program has penalized them by $1.9 billion, a new AHA infographic notes.

“Every day is an advocacy day here in Washington – your voice is very important because you live, you work and, most importantly, you vote in the districts and states of your legislators,” AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack told attendees at the AHA Advocacy Day before they went to Capitol Hill. “And when you reinforce the message we send every day, we become a very powerful voice on behalf of patients and the communities we serve.”

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