House panels OK stimulus bill's health coverage, IT provisions

AHA News Now

The House Ways & Means and Energy & Commerce committees yesterday approved a number of AHA-backed provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. To help states facing Medicaid enrollment increases and revenue declines due to the recession, the legislation increases federal matching funds for Medicaid by $89.5 billion through December 2010, including a 2.5% increase for Disproportionate Share Hospital allotments. Other provisions extend the moratorium on six Medicaid rules through June 2009, and expand the moratorium to include the Medicaid rule for hospital outpatient services; give state Medicaid programs a temporary option of covering certain unemployed and uninsured individuals; and provide COBRA premium assistance for eligible workers who lose their jobs. The legislation also reinstitutes through September the Medicare indirect medical education adjustment for teaching hospitals' capital costs; invests $20 billion in infrastructure and Medicare and Medicaid incentives to encourage doctors and hospitals to use health IT; and expands incentives for banks to purchase hospitals' tax-exempt bonds. These provisions will be combined with legislative language reported out of the House Appropriations Committee into a single bill (H.R. 1) expected to go to the House floor Wednesday. The Senate committees of jurisdiction are expected to mark up their versions of the stimulus package next week.

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