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House Passes Bipartisan Hospital Payment Bill Including Meaningful Use Exemption for ASCs; Senate Consideration Uncertain

Earlier this week, the House passed by voice vote H.R. 5273, the Helping Hospitals Improve Patient Care Act, a bill to reform Medicare hospital payment. The bipartisan bill exempts physicians who furnish a substantial portion of services in an ASC from Meaningful Use and the EHR performance portion of MIPS. The exemption will last three years beyond a time when a certified EHR is available for ASCs. Currently, there are no existing certified EHRs for ASCs. In addition, the bill includes an exemption for hospital-owned outpatient departments currently under construction from a law passed late last year requiring Medicare to reimburse new hospital-owned outpatient facilities at the same, lower rate as non-hospital owned facilities. H.R. 5273 exempts all hospital-owned facilities that had a binding, written agreement to begin construction before November 2, 2015, from the site-neutral exemption.

The bill now goes to the Senate Finance Committee, where it is expected to be amended with more controversial provisions related to hospital payment. This imperils the package for full Senate consideration. Both the House and Senate have passed legislation that would exempt encounters in ASCs from Meaningful Use reporting; however, the provisions were included in larger bills dealing with separate issues, none of which passed both houses of Congress. If the Senate does not take up the hospital bill, it is unclear whether this exemption will be included in another legislative vehicle. We will keep you updated.