Cures Act headed to president

Bill will roll back second round of Medicare reimbursement cuts that went into effect this year in rural areas
 - 
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

WASHINGTON – The 21st Century Cures Act, which includes important provisions related to Medicare’s competitive bidding program, has been passed by the Senate and is now headed to the president’s desk for his signature.

The Senate passed the bill Dec. 7 by an overwhelming majority, 94-5. The House of Representatives also passed the bill Nov. 30 by an overwhelming majority, 392-26.

President Barack Obama has already declared his support for the bill, mostly recently in his weekly address on Dec. 3.

The bill will roll back a second round of Medicare reimbursement cuts that went into effect this year in non-competitive bidding areas from June 30, 2016, to Dec. 31, 2016. The cuts would go back into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

“It is a red-letter day for DME providers and their patients with the passage of rural relief,” said John Gallagher, vice president of government relations for The VGM Group. “Providers will be able to recoup dollars over the past six months with a foundation being laid for the future with a change in leadership at HHS.”

The bill will also further delay Medicare’s plan to use bidding-derived prices for accessories for complex power wheelchairs until July 1, 2017.

Additionally, the bill will require the Department of Health and Human Services to: conduct a study on the impact of the bidding program on the overall number of HME providers and the availability of HME during 2016; and reissue payment regulations for services furnished on or after Jan. 1, 2019, that include stakeholder input, costs, volume items and number of providers serving the area.

As a pay-for for these provisions, however, the bill also shifts state Medicaid reimbursement amounts for DME to Medicare fee-for-services payments from Jan. 1, 2019, to Jan. 1, 2018.