WASHINGTON, D.C.– U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) applauded the Senate Finance Committee’s passage of their legislation (S. 1461) that would extend through calendar year 2015 a prohibition on the Centers of 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.
“Delaying enforcement of this CMS regulation, which would harm rural seniors’ access to therapy services, will provide certainty to providers and beneficiaries for the remainder of this calendar year,” said Thune. “During that time, we must continue to ensure that federal regulations take rural areas into consideration, which is why I will continue to push for passage of our PARTS Act to make this regulation workable in rural areas like South Dakota.”
“Making certain Kansans have access to quality health care remains one of my top priorities in Congress,” said Moran. “Imposing an unrealistic supervision policy jeopardizes patients’ access to outpatient therapy services in Kansas communities and across the country. I continue to advocate for passage of the PARTS Act – bipartisan legislation I’ve introduced to permanently address these burdensome federal regulations. In the meantime, I will work to delay enforcement so hospitals are able to continue to provide quality therapy services in rural areas.”
“Rural families and seniors deserve access to quality therapy services,” said Tester. “This bill upholds the standard of health care that rural families need by removing burdens for patients and providing Critical Access Hospitals the certainty they need.”
In response to concerns raised by hospitals and lawmakers, including Senators Thune, Moran, and Tester, CMS delayed enforcement of its direct supervision policy through 2013 for Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) and small rural hospitals. Congress suspended enforcement of the regulation through 2014. However, the regulation is scheduled to go into effect in 2015.
The PARTS Act would:
- 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.
Click here to read the text of the bill.