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By MATTHEW HAY
HHBR Washington Correspondent
WASHINGTON The Senate completed action on a spending package Friday that includes a delay in the 15% reduction in home health Medicare reimbursement scheduled for Oct. 1, 2000, until one year after the prospective payment system is implemented. That was the primary goal of the five national home care organizations when they developed a coalition earlier this year. The five groups now have another year to pursue cutting the additional reimbursement eliminated entirely.
The Senate voted 74-24 to approve the measure, which also includes relief for hospitals and nursing homes. Earlier in the week, the House approved the bill by a margin of 296-135. The final price tag of the package was $12.4 billion over five years. President Clinton is expected to sign the legislation tomorrow.
The agreement also includes a host of regulatory relief measures the industry was attempting to secure. In addition to eliminating the consolidated billing provision for durable medical equipment, the bill will suspend the Health Care Financing Administration’s (Baltimore) ability to reduce reimbursement under its inherent reasonableness authority until the Department of Health and Human Services’ (Washington) General Accounting Office completes an assessment of that process.
In addition, the bill includes a $10-per-beneficiary payment to offset the costs associated with OASIS and a reduction in surety bond values to $50,000, or 10% of Medicare program revenues, whichever is less.
Hospice providers will receive a market basket update of .75% instead of 1%. However, the final agreement does not rescind the 15-minute incremental billing requirement.