House subcommittee passes bill exempting ambulatory surgical centers from meaningful use
The House Ways and Means Committee voted on Tuesday to pass a bipartisan bill that includes the exemption of ambulatory surgical centers from meaningful use rules and the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System until the Office of the National Coordinator makes certified EHR technology available to these caregivers.
The change was part of a much larger bill, "Helping Hospitals Improve Patient Care Act" or HIP-C, which included amendments to the Social Security Act. Under the amendment no payment adjustments may be made for ambulatory surgical centers for 2017 and 2018.
HIP-C also creates a temporary delay, through the end of plan year 2018, in the authority of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to terminate Medicare Advantage plan contracts based solely on performance under the STARS rating system until the results can be studied.
“Our bipartisan legislation will empower healthcare plans and providers to deliver the high-quality, affordable care patients deserve," House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) said in a statement.
"This legislation strikes the right balance between preserving site neutral payment policy and helping hospitals better transition to new payment policies," he added. "It also improves support for medical providers who treat low-income and cancer patients."
The bill also included provision that prevents hospitals in low-income communities from penalties from the Readmission Reduction Program and increase care for rural committees, by extending the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Program for another five years.
“By moving forward with these commonsense reforms in a fiscally responsible way, we’re also upholding our firm commitment to strengthening and preserving Medicare for today’s seniors and future generations,” Brady said. "Above all else, this bill will help ensure our communities have access to the medical care seniors rely on, including the sickest Medicare beneficiaries.”