Omnibus Spending Bill Includes Major Health Policy Measures

After the MHA’s recent visits to Capitol Hill to advocate for year-end member priorities, Congress has reached a major deal on a year-end omnibus legislative package. The package includes health policy measures related to Medicare and Medicaid provisions, telehealth and hospital-at-home programs.

Lawmakers are blocking the implementation of the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) sequester which would have required a 4% cut to Medicare payments. In addition, both the Medicare Dependent Hospital and enhanced low-volume adjustment programs are extended for two years. The Medicare hospital-at-home program and pandemic-era telehealth flexibilities are also extended for two years. There is a one-year delay in lab payment changes stemming from the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014.

Regarding Medicaid, the package separates the enhanced federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) and the Medicaid eligibility maintenance of effort from the declaration of the Public Health Emergency. Beginning in April, states may remove those who no longer qualify for Medicaid, regardless of when the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. The enhanced FMAP, currently a 6.2% addition to state Medicaid matching rates, is gradually phased out through 2023. These changes help fund a year of continuous coverage provisions for children at risk of losing health insurance and standardizing 12 months of postpartum coverage.

Passage of the final legislation is likely to happen by midnight on Dec. 23, 2022. The bill text is public, giving high likelihood to the healthcare provisions outlined above. However, there is a possibility for last-minute changes.

For more information about the year-end omnibus legislation contact Laura Appel at the MHA.