The House of Representatives has passed the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (H.R. 4302) that would avert a 24% cut in Medicare Part B payments and extend the current therapy cap exceptions process for 1 year. The current "patch" was set to expire March 31, 2014. The Senate is expected to vote on the measure Monday.
In addition, H.R. 4302 would
- continue the current .5% sustainable growth rate (SGR) update through 2014 and then provide for a 0% update through April 2015,
- delay the transition to the adoption of ICD-10 code sets until October 1, 2015, and
- develop a skilled nursing facility value-based purchasing program.
The legislation taps various payment structures to pay for the 1-year fix, including
- review payment for codes determined to be "misvalued" under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and
- reallocation of the Medicare sequester for 2024 by front-loading the cuts to the first half of that sequestration year.
The passage of the House bill comes amid strong opposition by the physician community, which has been putting pressure on Congress to pass permanent repeal legislation rather than yearly short-term patches. Congressional leaders have signaled that a short-term fix does not preclude continued discussions about a more permanent solution.
For additional information, please contact Ingrida Lusis, ASHA's director of federal and political advocacy, at email@example.com.