U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) praised the Senate’s passage of their legislation (S. 1461), which would extend through calendar year 2015 a prohibition preventing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from enforcing direct supervision policy for outpatient therapeutic services, a harmful regulation that would jeopardize access to therapy services in rural areas.
This extension provides additional time to advance the Protecting Access to Rural Therapy Services (PARTS) Act (S. 257), which clarifies that general supervision of most outpatient therapeutic services by a physician or non-physician practitioner is sufficient for payment of therapeutic hospital outpatient services.
“I applaud my colleagues in the Senate for passing this legislation, which will provide rural hospitals in states like South Dakota with the flexibility needed to continue delivering quality outpatient therapy services,” said Thune. “This extension will provide us time to advance legislation eliminating this unnecessary burden on rural hospitals and will ensure seniors have access to therapy services in their communities.”
“Many hospitals find the federal government’s supervision requirements for outpatient therapy impossible to meet, which jeopardizes access to this important care,” Moran said. “Rural hospitals need reasonable flexibility to staff their facilities so they can provide a full range of services to their communities. I continue to advocate for passage of the Protecting Access to Rural Therapy Services Act – the PARTS Act – bipartisan legislation I introduced to permanently address this outpatient therapy supervision issue. In the meantime, I am pleased we were able to pass S. 1461 in the Senate to continue providing much needed regulatory relief to many hospitals in Kansas and across the country.”
“Folks in rural Montana have the same need for quality therapy services as anyone else,” Tester said. “This legislation gives us more time to permanently remove barriers for Critical Access Hospitals so they can continue providing important health care to patients in rural America.”
In response to concerns raised by hospitals and lawmakers, including Sens. Thune, Moran, and Tester, CMS delayed enforcement of its direct supervision policy for Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and small rural hospitals through 2013. Congress suspended enforcement of the regulation through 2014. However, the regulation is scheduled to go into effect in 2015. S. 1461 will extend the temporary relief to allow the senators additional time to advance their PARTS Act.
The PARTS Act will:
- Require CMS to allow a default setting of general supervision, rather than direct supervision, for outpatient therapeutic services;
- Create an advisory panel to establish an exceptions process for risky and complex outpatient services;
- Create a special rule for CAHs that recognizes their unique size and Medicare conditions of participation; and
- Hold hospitals and CAHs harmless from civil or criminal action for failing to meet CMS’ current direct supervision policy for the period 2001 through 2016.
S. 1461 will now be sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Click here to read the text of the PARTS Act.