Tauzin to Unveil Medicare Regulatory Reform Bill
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Billy Tauzin (R-La.) plans to unveil legislation today to provide "regulatory relief" to providers who have "complained about heavy-handed treatment" from Medicare, CongressDaily/AM reports. Under the bill, Medicare officials could only issue regulations one time per month and could not make "substantive policy changes" retroactive. The legislation would also allow providers 30 days to "come into compliance" with new rules. The bill would establish a panel of judges who would hear only Medicare cases and would create an "expedited process" for providers. In addition, the legislation would require improved education and outreach for providers and prohibit punishment for providers who "reasonably rely on written contractor guidance" that "turned out to be incorrect" (Rovner, CongressDaily/AM, 10/3).
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The legislation also would to give Medicare officials more authority in selecting contractors. Medicare contracts with private insurers to process payment claims filed by hospitals, doctors, medical device manufacturers and other companies (Bloomberg News, 10/2). According to Medicare officials, the current system allows providers "more power" than the federal government to select the companies that process and pay Medicare claims (California Healthline, 9/26). The bill would only allow contractors to review "suspect" claims when "there is a likelihood of sustained or high level of payment error." Health care providers have "complained" that the reviews "slow payment and hurt business" (Bloomberg News, 10/2). The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health may address a similar bill (HR 2768) as early as Thursday (CongressDaily/AM, 10/3).