House Republicans late last night introduced a stop-gap spending measure that would extend government funding until March 23, eliminate $5 billion in scheduled Medicaid disproportionate share hospital cuts for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, and extend several Medicare payment adjustments that support access in rural communities. Specifically, the bill would extend the Medicare-dependent hospital and low-volume adjustment programs for two years, and home health rural add-on and ground ambulance add-on payments for five years. It also would remove the mandate that meaningful use standards become more stringent over time, as advocated by the AHA, and expand access to telehealth services for stroke patients outside rural areas by eliminating a geographic requirement beginning in January 2021, among other changes. The bill would pay for new spending in part by reducing payments for hospital patients discharged to hospice care before the average Medicare length of stay. The House could vote on the CR as soon as tonight. Federal funding is set to expire on Feb. 8 without congressional action.

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