LeadingAge Washington Update
The regular session of Congress has ended with a bang, as far as we are concerned, but the legislators will return for a lame duck session after the elections. Congressional leaders have advised their members there will be no more votes until November. Before leaving, Congress passed two measures of significant interest:
Continuing resolution for fiscal 2015: To keep federal programs in operation as the new fiscal year begins on October 1, Congress passed H.J. Res. 124, a continuing resolution good through December 11. When Congress comes back, they will have to decide whether to pass small clusters of appropriations bills, one omnibus spending bill covering all federal agencies, or another CR to last the rest of the fiscal year.
Programs affected include senior housing and home- and community-based services under the Older Americans Act. A CR actually advantages some aspects of senior housing, since it will keep funds flowing to the housing with services demo. We are advocating for maximum possible funding of Section 202 and Section 8 in the next fiscal year.
Medicare post-acute payment reform: This was the sleeper issue this week. Both the House and Senate passed H.R. 4224, the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Transformation, or IMPACT Act under expedited procedures generally used to name post offices or designate National Apple Pie day. Neither house held hearings on the legislation, although there was lengthy discussion of post-acute care payment reform last year.
The bill is on its way to the White House and we expect President Obama to sign it into law.
Here is a link to the LeadingAge analysis of the change. The legislation requires CMS to develop a standardized assessment tool to be used across the spectrum of post-acute services covered by Medicare. A standardized system of quality reporting also must be developed, in addition to those already applicable to SNFs and home health.
CMS is charged with implementing the provisions of IMPACT. LeadingAge will continue working intensively with them on the development of the tools required by IMPACT to ensure appropriate risk adjustment and other essential provisions.
Grassroots activity needed: In preparation for the lame duck session, LeadingAge continues active advocacy on Medicare observation days, funding for senior housing, and reauthorization of home- and community-based service programs under the Older Americans Act. Contact Congress materials are available on the Advocacy page of our website.
Now that members of Congress are home and on the campaign trail, LeadingAge members have a great opportunity to meet with them in their district offices or at one of our member communities. If you or any of your members schedule meetings with legislators, LeadingAge will be happy to provide more detailed and individually tailored materials and answer any questions you or they may have. (Barbara Gay, LeadingAge)