House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) today announced a bipartisan agreement to extend certain expiring Medicare provisions for rural and other providers. The proposal would extend the Medicare-Dependent Hospital and Low-Volume Adjustment programs for two years; extend add-on payments for ground ambulance and home health services for five years; repeal the annual Medicare limit on per-patient therapy expenditures; reauthorize special needs plans for five years; and extend the physician geographic payment cost index and funding for consensus-based quality entity work for two years. It also would extend State Health Insurance Assistance Programs for two years. In addition, the proposal includes a number of payment offsets, including modifications to payments for critical access hospital swing beds. “The AHA appreciates the work of Chairman Brady and Ranking Member Neal to address the needs of seniors, and supports the straight extensions of the Medicare Dependent Hospital and Low-Volume Adjustment programs,” said AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels. “However, the proposed changes to the CAH swing bed payments should be removed as the legislation moves forward. CAHs are often the only source of health care in their communities, and swing bed services allow seniors to stay close to home to receive care, rather than being transferred to another facility. This is the time when Congress should be looking to stabilize access to care, rather than reducing payments for critical health care services in our most vulnerable rural communities.”

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