Lawmakers Introduce Therapy Cap Bills

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) has introduced H.R. 807 to repeal the Medicare outpatient rehabilitation therapy caps. The legislation currently has 46 co-sponsors. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced a companion bill, S. 253. So far, three senators have agreed to co-sponsor the legislation. The Medicare cap on outpatient rehabilitation therapy services was originally instituted under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 as a combined cap on speech-language pathology (SLP) and physical therapy (PT) services, as well as a separate cap on occupational therapy (OT) services to Medicare beneficiaries. The 2013 “Path for SGR Reform Act of 2013” law directed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to continue to allow exceptions to therapy caps for medically necessary services provided through March 31, 2014. The therapy cap exceptions process has since required reauthorization annually.

Republicans Pursue Repealing the ACA

Republican lawmakers are moving forward to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Last week and this week, committees held a flurry of hearings. Both the House Budget Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee held separate hearings on the “failings” of the program and in particular, the effectiveness of the individual mandate requirement, which was discussed by the House Ways and Means Committee. This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held two hearings on Medicaid and the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing called “Rescuing Americans from the Failed Health Care Law and Advancing Patient-Centered Solutions.” The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations examined the Medicaid expansion program.

The Senate Finance Committee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee are also studying specific proposals. The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on stabilizing the insurance market. These House and Senate committee hearings follow the budget resolution passed by both the House and Senate, which contained provisions for repealing and replacing the health care reform legislation. Last week, President Trump signed an Executive Order to give federal agencies latitude in delaying or waiving provisions, rules and regulations with regard to the ACA that would place a fiscal burden on states, individuals, families, health care providers, health insurers, or makers of medical devices, products or medications.

Congressional Brain Injury Task Force Schedules Awareness Day

Mark your calendar for the 2017 Brain Injury Awareness Day on Capitol Hill to be held Wednesday, March 22, 2017. The day will begin at 10 a.m. with a Brain Injury Awareness Fair to be held in the Rayburn Foyer, followed by the briefing, “Faces of Brain Injury: The Invisible Disability Affecting Children and Adults,” to be held in the Rayburn Gold Room 2168. A reception will  also be held in the Rayburn Gold Room 2168 from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) is a sponsor of the reception and will be actively involved in the day’s events.

Senate Committee Approves Education Nominee

Early this morning, the U.S. Senate voted to advance the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary as the U.S. Department of Education, President Trump’s pick. The final confirmation vote is expected to take place Monday. The vote this morning was 52 to 48 along party lines. Two republicans have indicated they will vote against her on the final vote Monday, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, which would result in Vice President Pence casting the tie breaker vote.