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House Votes in Favor of Permanent Doc Fix, Bill Moves to the Senate

Mar 26, 2015

Earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 2, doing away with Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula and passing a permanent doc fix.  The 392-37 vote was overwhelmingly bipartisan.  The bill includes a 33-month extension of the temporary Medicare ambulance increases was included in the bill.  If enacted, the bill would extend the deadline for expiration of Medicare ambulance relief from March 31 until December 31, 2017.

The Senate still needs to pass the bill and is working on a short time-line before they adjourn for recess.  Senate Republicans and Democrats have expressed concerns about different aspects of the bill so it is unclear whether the chamber will consider H.R. 2 before it recesses.  It is also uncertain if Congress would pass a short-term extension to give the Senate more time or if CMS would be required to formalize its 14-day claim hold policy should H.R. 2 not be enacted before March 31.

In addition to Medicare ambulance relief, the package also includes language from the Protecting Integrity of Medicare Act (H.R. 1021) expanding the current prior authorization pilot programs on repetitive BLS non-emergency ambulance transports in South Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Starting in January 2016, the bill would expand the programs to Delaware, DC, Maryland, North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia.  The program would then expand nationwide starting in January 2017.