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View from the Hill – An active September in the nation’s capital

October 09, 2015
From the November 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Short-Term Spending Bill, Entitlement Reforms and Cuts to Medicare Funding
Also on Sept. 30, President Barack Obama signed a short-term spending bill to keep the government open and operating at its current levels until Dec. 11. As part of his press conference after signing the bill, the president stated that this is the last short-term spending bill that he is willing to sign during his presidency, and that a budget agreement needs to be reached to allow for the annual appropriations process to be completed for FY 2016, and then allowed to go forward for FY 2017. Due to the sequestration caps on both domestic and defense spending, Congress has not been able to agree on funding bills for FY 2016. With Speaker Boehner resigning, there was not much time for the leadership to reach a deal. And in getting a deal last time there was a need to include entitlement reforms/cuts to enable Republicans to agree with the spending increases.
When we say entitlement reforms what we really mean are cuts to Medicare funding. Since reimbursement for imaging services has been cut at least 13 times in these types of scenarios, there is reason for concern. Also, with the Ways and Means Committee working on legislation regarding payments to hospitals, it again brings up the concept of site-neutral payments. In that legislative discussion the issues of payment equality between short-term hospital stays and hospital outpatient stays are in the spotlight.

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While this is not specific to imaging services, it could have a negative overall impact on hospital reimbursement and available dollars for capital purchases. So please come back and read this column next month to learn how this all pans out and what the end of the year may hold for imaging services and appropriate diagnosis.
About the author: Jill Rathbun is managing partner at Galileo Consulting Group in Arlington, Virginia. She will be commenting for HealthCare Business News on issues of interest to health care professionals.

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