6 hospital implications under the 21st Century Cures Act

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Congress is poised to pass the 21st Century Cures Act.

A significant piece of healthcare legislation will soon go up for a vote in the House of Representatives, and the implications for hospitals and health systems could be wide-reaching.

The American Hospital Association noted in a news alert that the some-1,000 page (PDF) revised 21st Century Cures Act contains many provisions that the organization promoted. The bill will likely become law before the end of the year.

The elements of the bill that health system leaders should be aware of include:

  1. An update to 2015’s Bipartisan Budget Act, which would move the grandfather date for off-campus hospitals to open in-development outpatient departments.
  2. About $1 billion in state funding to fight the opioid crisis.
  3. $4.8 billion to continue funding programs like Cancer Moonshot, The Precision Medicine Initiative and the BRAIN Initiative.
  4. Adjustments to the often-maligned Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program to account for socioeconomic status.
  5. A 5-year extension of the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Program.
  6. Relief from the Long-Term Hospital Care 25% rule for one year.

Though professional organizations like the AHA back several key tenets, the bill has come under fire for what some say is too many concessions to big pharma.

RELATED: Congress poised to address interoperability

Republicans in Congress argue that it will promote more innovation in the healthcare industry, while prominent Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have criticized the role pharmaceutical lobbyists have played in its crafting, and that it doesn’t do enough to fund research, according to an article from Stat News.

Warren said the bill makes “huge giveaways” to the pharmaceuticals industry, including potentially allowing drug companies to market medications for unapproved purposes.

The bill in its current form would also exempt physicians from some of the disclosures required by the Physician Payments Sunshine Act—a major element of the Affordable Care Act, according to an article from ProPublica. Under the new act, docs would not have reveal the value of textbooks or medical journal reprints that they may have been gifted.