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Ways and Means Committee Aims to Develop a “Hospital” Bill

The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health is holding a series of hearings to examine a range of hospital payment issues with the goal of producing a broad hospital bill later this year.  Yesterday, they held a hearing with the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) that focused on possible options for reforming hospital payment policies put forward over the last few years.  A hearing has been scheduled for July 28 on rural health care disparities.  The committee has also indicated they will hold a hearing in the fall to explore possible changes to the graduate medical education (GME) program. 

HANYS is working closely with New York members of the Ways and Means Committee to protect the interests of HANYS’ members as these deliberations proceed, including by working with members of the full Committee and staff.

In his testimony yesterday before the committee, MedPAC’s Executive Director Mark Miller provided an overview of trends in the hospital sector, discussing the Commission’s latest report to Congress and describing a range of MedPAC recommendations that would significantly change hospital payment policies and programs.  In particular, Mr. Miller singled out GME and disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments as areas where MedPAC recommends dramatic redesigns be considered.

Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) expressed a strong interest in considering several reform initiatives, but focused mostly on his perspective that the committee move forward with site-neutral payment policies, also proposed by MedPAC.  This is a significant concern to HANYS.  We have long fought to protect patient access to physician services in hospital-based clinics.  In many communities, these facilities are among the only, if not the sole, way to access physician services.

Chairman Brady also discussed an interest in further pursuing recommendations put forth by MedPAC that would redesign critical hospital add-on payments, including GME, DSH, and rural hospital payments. 

While no New Yorkers serve on the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, full Committee members from New York State include Representatives Tom Reed (R-Corning), Joseph Crowley (D-Queens/Bronx), and Charlie Rangel (D-Manhattan).  Representative Crowley attended yesterday’s hearing to stress the need to protect GME funding while increasing the number of Medicare-supported residency slots to address the growing need for physicians. In response to the criticisms of GME payments raised by Mr. Miller, Representative Crowley emphasized the widespread benefits of teaching hospitals in communities throughout the nation and highlighted their role as leaders in implementing innovative reform.

Additional details, including a full replay of yesterday’s hearing, are available on the Committee website.

Contact: Susan Van Meter and Elyse Oveson

Published July 24, 2015