Down to the Wire Medicare Cap Due Back July 1 News in Brief
News in Brief  |   June 01, 2003
Down to the Wire
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Practice Management / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   June 01, 2003
Down to the Wire
The ASHA Leader, June 2003, Vol. 8, 1-12. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB.08122003.1
The ASHA Leader, June 2003, Vol. 8, 1-12. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB.08122003.1
ASHA continues to press Congress for a delay in the scheduled July 1 implementation of the $1,500 Medicare cap on outpatient services. Readers can visit the ASHA Web site for the latest advocacy alerts and information on what steps should be taken if the cap does return.
“This is going down to the wire,” said James Potter, ASHA’s director of government relations and public policy, who added that ASHA is discussing with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) a postponement “until at least October or preferably the end of the year.” The $1,500 cap became law as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and took effect in 1999. That year, advocacy from ASHA and other health care groups succeeded in persuading Congress to suspend the cap for two years.
The moratorium was extended an additional year due to a behind-the-scenes lobbying effort by ASHA and other groups. The moratorium officially ended on Dec. 31, 2002, but CMS delayed re-implementation of the cap until July 1, 2003, as the result of threatened legal action by ASHA and other groups claiming that the agency could not implement the law properly. If CMS decides to go ahead with implementation on July 1, ASHA has instructed its lawyers to again prepare legal briefs for a temporary restraining order against the agency in federal court. “We believe we have some strong arguments,” Potter said, “but there’s no getting around the fact that the law is still on the books.”
Only congressional action can settle this issue definitively. “The lobbying campaign on this issue is intense,” said Reed Franklin, director of ASHA’s Capitol Hill office. “The immediate problem is that Congress is not going to pass a Medicare bill before July 1, given limited time and the complexity of proposed Medicare legislation, which also may include a prescription drug benefit and medical liability reform.”
It is essential that Congress continue to hear from constituents about the importance of repealing the $1,500 cap. “We really need every ASHA member to weigh in on this one,” Potter said. “The only way we’ll be successful is if everyone pitches in by contacting their U.S. senators and representative.”
You can easily contact your members of Congress through ASHA’s Political Action Web site, which provides pre-formatted, editable letters that can be e-mailed or printed and mailed. If you prefer to call your elected officials, phone the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to their offices.
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June 2003
Volume 8, Issue 12