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FAH Supports Ways and Means Committee Action on Vital Health Care Bills

The Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) sent a letter to House Ways and Means Committee leaders today expressing support for several of the health care related bills that are scheduled to be marked-up on Wednesday.

“We appreciate the Committee taking action to, among other items, improve the Medicare experience for beneficiaries, reauthorize the important work on quality improvement being done at the National Quality Forum (NQF), extend mental health benefits via telehealth, continue work to address the opioid crisis, and improve the delivery of care for patients with chronic medical conditions,” wrote FAH President and CEO Chip Kahn.

The letter, which was sent to Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX), highlighted several important bills supported by FAH, including:

H.R. 3417, the Beneficiary Education, Tools, Telehealth, and Extenders Reauthorization Act of 2019

“We support increasing access to mental health services via telehealth and appreciate the legislation’s relaxing of existing Medicare rules which serve as an impediment to the expansion and adoption of telehealth services. The use of telehealth to deliver care, especially in rural settings, is an important means to preserving access to vital health care services. We encourage the Committee to consider additional ways to incent the delivery of care via telehealth and specifically consider how to incent the use of these technologies in rural settings including hospitals.”

Another FAH supported provision will change Medicare GME (Graduate Medical Education) treatment of hospitals by establishing new medical residency training programs.

This bill also includes an extension of funding for The National Quality Forum (NQF).

“We applaud the Committee’s inclusion of language to reauthorize the NQF through fiscal year 2022. The NQF has been critical to ensuring the reliability and effectiveness of quality measures, and we are pleased to see continued investment in their important work. FAH also supports the Committee’s expansion of the NQF’s scope, providing long-needed authority to recommend the removal of measures to ensure they continue to drive measurable improvements in quality for Medicare beneficiaries.”

The HEARTS and Rural Relief Act

FAH supports the extension of enforcement instruction on supervision requirements for outpatient services in critical access and small rural hospitals through 2021. “Many small rural and critical access hospitals have insufficient staff available to furnish direct supervision, especially due to difficulties in recruiting physician and non-physician practitioners to practice in rural areas.”

H.R. 3414, The Opioid Workforce Act of 2019

This legislation proposes the addition of 1,000 Medicare-supported GME positions over five years to hospitals that have established or are establishing substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and prevention programs. “Expanding and funding residency slots for this purpose will help ensure that tomorrow’s physicians are fully equipped with the training and skills necessary in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain management.”

Finally, FAH expressed support for a bill that will remove cost sharing responsibilities for chronic care management services under the Medicare program.

The full letter can be found here.