INCREASES MEDICARE PAYMENT FOR PAP SMEARS
(Washington, DC) -- Delaware Congressman Michael N. Castle today voted for House passage of "The Medicare Balanced Budget Refinement Act" (H.R. 3075) - legislation designed to solve concerns that the reforms made in the 1997 Balanced Budget Act to the Medicare system may have adversely affected access to health care services for Medicare beneficiaries. The measure passed on a vote of 388-25.
"Two years ago, Congress fundamentally changed the Medicare program –offering more choices than ever before while extending the financial life of the program. While we have made tremendous progress, we are working to improve the health care program that so many seniors depend on," Castle said. "This bill will help ease the financial burden on hospitals, nursing facilities and other providers while improving health care delivery for America's seniors. I am especially pleased that this legislation increases the Medicare payment for screening Pap smears to $14.60."
The Senate has yet to act on its version on the bill. Castle added, "I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate so that we may get the best legislation to the President for his signature. Our seniors deserve no less."
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 recordkeeping costs. The plan also calls on HCFA to waive interest on repayments to Medicare made by home health agencies.