The House today cleared a continuing resolution (HJ Res 124) funding the federal government through Thursday, December 11, that would temporarily avert a government shutdown otherwise occurring on September 30 when FY14 funding expires. The resolution funds all 12 federal agencies, programs and services at the current annual FY14 rate of $1.012 trillion, including healthcare agencies and programs, as well as an augmented U.S. response to the Ebola crisis in Africa. The Senate is expected to vote on the measure later this week. Assuming Senate passage, the temporary nature of the measure will mean that lawmakers will again be faced with acting on either another stop-gap spending bill or an omnibus appropriations bill during the post-election lame duck session.
Yesterday, the House approved under suspension of the rules the bipartisan, bicameral Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act of 2014 (H.R. 4994), which lays the foundation for reforms to post-acute care (PAC) provider payments in future years by requiring the collection of standardized, comparable assessment data across care settings.
The IMPACT Act will develop assessment tools that will provide standardized data intended to enable CMS to compare quality across PAC settings and to improve hospital and PAC discharge planning. The measure also requires the Department of Health and Human Services and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission to provide Congress with new payment models, such as site-neutral payments or bundled payments, to consider for future reforms.
According to the Congressional Budget Office estimate, H.R. 4994 is funded by reducing Medicare payment rates for services furnished by skilled nursing facilities that fail to report assessment and quality data and by reducing the caps on payments for beneficiaries receiving hospice services.
With few days left on the legislative calendar before the Senate recesses for the elections, the prospects for the Senate considering the IMPACT bill (S. 2553) are uncertain. Healthcare leaders are hoping that the Senate will vote on the measure before the start of the new Congress.