Something good happened this week for Medicare beneficiaries. You may have not noticed it amidst all the ado about the Senate plan to repeal Obamacare. It’s called the Medicare Part B Improvement Act, and it is a completely bipartisan effort. Medicare World touched on it briefly in our coverage of legislation that’s good for Medicare. After its approval by the House Committee on Ways and Means two weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed HR 3178, the Medicare Part B Improvement Act of 2017, earlier this week.
“The legislation delivers targeted, immediate reforms to make Medicare work better for the American people,” said Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman. “And it includes solutions from roughly a dozen Members on both sides of the aisle. The ‘Medicare Part B Improvement Act’ takes action on three primary goals: First, expanding access to high-quality care. Second, improving efficiency in the delivery of care so that patients can better receive the care they need, when they need it. And third, easing administrative burdens on providers so they can spend less time on paperwork and more time with patients.”
In general, the bill will help Medicare payments for home infusion services, prevent gaps in care for Medicare beneficiaries while also helping patients with chronic diseases receive easier access to treatments that they need, and help protect access to prosthetics for Medicare beneficiaries who need them. More specifically, here’s what the bill will do:
- Create a transition payment for home infusion therapies for Medicare beneficiaries to ensure there is no gap in care.
- Extend a successful pilot program that allows Medicare beneficiaries with weakened immune systems to receive care in their homes.
- Protect access to orthotics and prosthetics for Medicare beneficiaries who need them.
- Improve the accreditation process for dialysis facilities so Medicare beneficiaries with chronic kidney disease living in rural communities can more easily access the treatments they need.
- Expand the use of telehealth technologies for Medicare beneficiaries receiving dialysis in their homes.
- Put into law existing regulations to modernize Medicare’s physician self-referral laws, known as “Stark laws.”
According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, this act of bipartisan legislation will reduce direct spending by $4 million between 2018 and 2027. The next step for the bill is to be brought to the Senate for vote.
Medicare doesn’t cover everything. Luckily, those on Medicare can now start saving on out of pocket expenses like prescription drugs, dental, vision, hearing, and more. Over 1 million people have already received their free Medicare Plus Card.