President Obama on Dec. 13 signed into law the AHA-supported 21st Century Cures Act, which includes a number of provisions important to hospitals and health systems. Both the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed the measure.

The legislation revises the 2015 Bipartisan Budget Act to move the grandfather date for off-campus hospital outpatient departments under development from Nov. 2, 2015 to 60 days after enactment; adjusts the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program to account for socioeconomic status; and extends the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Program for five years.

The legislation also provides one full year of relief from the Long-term Care Hospital 25% Rule; prohibits the Health and Human Services Secretary from enforcing the “direct supervision” regulations in 2016 for outpatient therapeutic services provided in critical access hospitals and certain small, rural hospitals; fund state efforts to address the opioid abuse crisis; and makes improvements related to mental health and substance abuse disorder services.

AHA members received a detailed Dec. 7 Legislative Advisory outlining provisions of the bill. Visit for more.

Following House action a week earlier, the Senate on Dec. 7 voted to pass the bill. The Senate’s approval came a day after hospital and health system leaders took to Capitol Hill to urge Congress to pass the legislation and to protect coverage as they begin deliberations about the fate of the Affordable Care Act (see related story on page 1).

As part of the AHA Advocacy Day, participants were briefed on recent legislative and regulatory activity, the presidential transition, and the association’s recent report on ensuring access to care in vulnerable communities (see page 5). Hospital leaders then met with their legislators.