The Senate this week approved a catch-all health bill, sending it to the president for his signature. The centerpieces of the bill are aimed at speeding up the process for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of new drugs and medical devices, and boosting reach funds for National Institutes of Health (NIH). Sen. Patty Murray was instrumental in the development of the FDA and NIH provisions.
The bill includes a number of other health provisions, including moving the date to qualify for full hospital outpatient payments for services in off-campus, provider-based clinics from November 2, 2015 to December 31, 2016. It also extends the moratorium on enforcement of rules for supervising outpatient therapeutic services through 2016 and permits Medicare beneficiaries seen by a mid-level practitioner to be attributed to a rural accountable care organization. Sen. Maria Cantwell helped spearhead this work.
The Cures bill also institutes a modest package of mental health reforms and a five-year extension of the rural hospital demonstration program. (John Flink, WSHA Federal Lobbyist)