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February 9, 2009 News Headlines

Senate to Begin Voting Tonight on Economic Stimulus Package

Over the weekend, U.S. Senate leaders announced a bipartisan agreement on the Senate version of economic stimulus legislation, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Senate is expected to conduct a procedural vote today to end debate on the legislation. A vote on the bill could take place as early as tomorrow. Following Senate passage, House and Senate leaders will need to reconcile the differences between the two versions, enabling each chamber to pass the final version and send it to President Obama for signature. Congress’ self-imposed deadline is the start of the congressional recess, February 13.

Although the Senate agreement reduced the overall level of spending in the package, key hospital and health system priorities remain intact, including a temporary increase to the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP)--a provision that would bring approximately $11 billion in federal Medicaid funding to New York State over 27 months. A similar provision is included in the House-passed bill. Two-thirds of the FMAP increase would go directly to the state, while the remaining one-third would be directed to localities.

As in the House version, the Senate agreement preserves provisions to provide Medicare and Medicaid payment incentives for qualifying hospitals that adopt and use health information technology systems. Further, both the House and Senate bills would reverse the Medicare inpatient hospital capital Indirect Medical Education payment cuts to teaching hospitals that began October 1, 2008. However, only the House version extends and expands moratoria on implementation of seven damaging Medicaid regulations.

Members can access an online, up-to-date summary of the key health care provisions contained in the House-passed and Senate compromise bills.

In concert with the American Hospital Association, HANYS is weighing in with members of the New York State Congressional Delegation and others involved in reconciling the difference between the House and Senate version in favor of the strongest provisions for hospitals and health systems. Contact: Susan Van Meter


Medicare RAC Protest Settled; Program to Proceed

The federal government is resuming implementation of the Medicare Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) program. The program was temporarily suspended after a protest was lodged over the RAC contract award process.

New York’s awarded contractor continues to be Diversified Collection Services, Inc. (DCS) of Livermore, California. However, a subcontractor, PRG-Schultz, Inc., will supplement DCS’ work in Region A which, in addition to New York, includes Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. HANYS will seek further information about the subcontractor role and how it will operate in New York.

PRG-Schultz, Inc. was part of the RAC demonstration program in California, where it came under fire for its analysis of inpatient rehabilitation claims.

To prepare members, HANYS will host representatives from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the new RAC, and possibly the new subcontractor, at an educational session in early March. HANYS will provide additional details about registration and location of the videoconference. Contact: Edward McGill