Congress Passes Appropriations Bills as Fiscal Year Wraps up

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Congress Passes Appropriations Bills as Fiscal Year Wraps up

How ASCs will be impacted

For the first time in years, the US Congress passed several funding bills, known as appropriations, before the end of the fiscal year on September 30. Two respective appropriations measures fund programs that intersect with ASCs: private-sector care for veterans and Medicare.


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On September 21, President Donald Trump signed legislation to fund the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for Fiscal Year 2019. The bill provides $1.75 billion for implementation of a new VA Community Care Program slated to begin in 2019 that will consolidate all current private-sector care programs for veterans. The measure also budgets $750 million for additional inpatient and outpatient medical services, including medical supplies and equipment. As electronic health records (EHR) are critical to the future success of the VA Community Care Program, also included in the bill is $1.1 billion to help VA implement its new EHR system.

Congress also approved a large package to fund the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Many of the bill’s provisions focus on primary care, rural health services and prevention efforts, such as services to address substance abuse and research. Most relevant to ASCs, however, is $284 billion in mandatory funding for Medicare Part B benefits. The Part B funding, which includes outpatient services, is a 16 percent increase from 2018. The legislation also directs HHS to report to Congress on the most frequently purchased and most expensive drugs in Medicare, and to list those that received significant research subsidies.

Among numerous functions, these legislative packages will help ASCs continue to provide care to veterans and Medicare beneficiaries and reduce expenses for our health care system at large.

For more information on congressional appropriations and other federal legislative activity, write Jeff Evans.