Stabenow Bill Would Preserve Rural Access to Therapy Services

Posted on March 27, 2019

U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and John Thune (R-SD) reintroduced on March 27 the Rural Hospital Regulatory Relief Act, federal legislation that would permanently prohibit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from enforcing its direct supervision policy for certain outpatient therapeutic services.

As currently written, the CMS policy would require practicing physicians to directly supervise other certified medical professionals who deliver outpatient therapy services. Without direct supervision, outpatient therapy services could not be administered, which could threaten access to care in rural and underserved areas where there are fewer practicing physicians. Stabenow and Thune believe there is a more efficient and cost-effective approach, which would allow other midlevel certified medical professionals to provide outpatient therapy services with a more indirect role from a physician.  

Stabenow said that the legislation removes an unnecessary burden on rural hospitals and makes it easier for patients in small towns and rural communities to continue to get treatment near their homes. The MHA is aware that many rural hospitals in Michigan have expressed concern about the potential impact of the direct supervision policy and asked Stabenow to become a primary sponsor of this legislation.

Following the enactment of multiple one-year legislative fixes, and at Thune’s urging, the CMS’s 2018 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System final rule reinstated nonenforcement for 2018 and 2019. However, a permanent fix to the issue via legislation would help solve the issue once and for all.

Members with questions should contact Laura Appel at the MHA.

Tags: Rural Hospital Regulatory Relief Act, Debbie Stabenow, outpatient therapy services, rural hospitals

Posted in: Top Issues - Healthcare

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