Health Care Reform Signed Into Law Therapy Cap Exceptions Reinstated, Fee Schedule Cuts May Take Effect April 1 Policy Analysis
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Policy Analysis  |   April 01, 2010
Health Care Reform Signed Into Law
Author Notes
  • Ingrida Lusis, director of federal and political advocacy, can be reached at ilusis@asha.org.
    Ingrida Lusis, director of federal and political advocacy, can be reached at ilusis@asha.org.×
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Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Policy Analysis
Policy Analysis   |   April 01, 2010
Health Care Reform Signed Into Law
The ASHA Leader, April 2010, Vol. 15, 1-8. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.15042010.1
The ASHA Leader, April 2010, Vol. 15, 1-8. doi:10.1044/leader.PA.15042010.1
The recently passed comprehensive health care reform legislation, signed into law on March 23 by President Obama, calls for the extension of the Medicare Part B therapy caps exceptions process through Dec. 31, 2010. However, the law fails to address the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule; therefore, the 2010 fee schedule, with its 21% rate decrease, will take effect April 1, unless Congress takes additional action.
The health care reform law also calls for coverage of both habilitative and rehabilitative services as basic benefits in any insurance package, and would exempt hearing aids from the proposed health care device tax.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Coverage Act—the Senate’s version of health care reform—by a 219–212 vote on March 21. The bill does not address whether or not the Medicare exceptions to the therapy caps would be retroactive to Jan. 1.
Congress will need to pass another bill to extend the therapy cap exceptions process beyond Dec. 31. Additionally, Congress intends to address the fee schedule through more comprehensive changes in the formula used to calculate reimbursement rates. That legislation is expected to be considered later this spring. The House has passed a bill, however, that maintains the 2009 fee schedule rates through April 30; as of press time (March 24), the Senate had not yet considered the bill.
The House passed the Senate version of health care reform with a promise from the Obama administration that financing and other concerns would be addressed in a separate reconciliation bill; after passage of H.R. 3590, the House immediately passed the reconciliation measure. As of March 23, this sidecar legislationwas sent to the Senate for consideration and passage. Reconciliation requires that all items in the bill relate to the budget and allows for an up-or-down vote that needs only a simple majority for passage. The use of reconciliation in the Senate bypasses the need for a “super majority” (60 votes) in favor of the measure.
Breaking news about health care reform will be available to members through the ASHA Advocacy Web site.
Future issues of The ASHA Leader will include more detailed analyses of the health care reform legislation and budget reconciliation provisions.
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April 2010
Volume 15, Issue 4