Sussex County Delaware

Castle Votes for
Medicare Act

From Rep. Castle's Office ...

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Rep. Michael N. Castle (R-Del.) voted for "The Medicare Balanced Budget Refinement Act" on Friday, Nov. 5, 1999.

The legislation (H.R. 3075) is designed to solve concerns that the reforms made in the 1997 Balanced Budget Act to the Medicare system adversely affected access to health care services for Medicare beneficiaries. The measure passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Senate has yet to act on its version of the bill, which increased Medicare payments for Pap Smears.

"This bill will help ease the financial burden on hospitals, nursing facilities and other providers while improving health care delivery for America's seniors," said Rep. Castle. "I am especially please that this legislation increases the Medicare payment for screening Pap Smears."

The House version of the Medicare Balanced Budget Refinement Act includes:

  • Approximately $11.5 billion over five years to help Medicare services providers that were adversely affected by the Medicare payment reductions resulting from the Balanced Budget Act of 1997;

  • Pap Smear Payment Increase -- Increases the Medicare payment for screening Pap Smears to $14.60;

  • Ensures Smooth Transition for Outpatient Hospitals Switching to New Payment System -- Creates an "outlier" adjustment for high acuity patients; adjusts payments for innovative medical devices, drugs and biologicals, including orphan and cancer drugs; and provides targeted incentives to increase hospital efficiency;

  • Ensures Availability of Home Health Care -- Beneficiaries will receive increased access to home health care services through delaying 15 percent payment reductions to home health agencies until one year after implementation of the prospective payment system (PPS). The plan also assists agencies with added paperwork and record-keeping costs. The plans also calls on HCFA to waive interest on repayments to Medicare made by home health agencies.

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