The Senate GOP has released a massive economic stimulus bill that would get rid of Medicare's sequester cuts temporarily and increase Medicare payments to hospitals treating COVID-19 patients by 15%.
The stimulus package announced Thursday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still needs to get support from Democrats in the House and Senate. It does not include the $100 billion that providers have been asking for, but it does include help for small businesses and economic assistance for every American.
The legislation also does not appear to include any surprise medical bill provisions, which some advocates had been hoping for.
Here are some of the healthcare items in the package:
- Includes an increase to the payment that would otherwise be made to a hospital for treating a patient admitted with COVID-19 by 15%;
- Temporarily lifts the Medicare sequester that reduces payments to providers by 2%. The temporary duration would extend from May 1 to Dec. 31, 2020;
- Allows high-deductible plans with a health savings account to cover telehealth services prior to the patient reaching their deductible;
- Provides $1.32 billion to community health centers;
- Gives the National Disaster Medical Service direct hiring authority to boost the number of healthcare professionals from 3,500 to 6,000 to help deal with the impact of the outbreak;
- Establishes a Ready Reserve Corps to ensure there are enough healthcare professionals to respond to COVID-19 and other public health emergencies;
- Requires the Department of Health and Human Services to put out guidance on what can and cannot be shared during a public health emergency.