April 23, 2015

The “Doc Fix” and Funding for F2Fs, CHIP, and Home Visiting

In a late-night session Tuesday, April 14, (really in the early morning hours of Wednesday morning, April 15) the Senate approved H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, by a vote of 92-8.  Since the bill had already been passed by the House, it was then ready to be sent to the President, who signed it into law on Thursday, April 16.  The law averted a 21 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians, and permanently changes the formula for physician reimbursement under Medicare. 


In addition, the law extends funding for Family-to-Family Health Information Centers (F2Fs) through federal FY 2017 (a 2.5-year extension), at the current level of $5 million per year.  The law also extends funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through FY 2017.  Child health advocates were pleased that the program’s funding was extended, but disappointed that it was extended for two years, rather than four.  (The CHIP program is authorized through FY 2019.)


The law also extends funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, and provides a two-year extension of a funding increase for community health centers.  It would also make permanent a provision allowing families to keep Medicaid coverage while they transition to work.  The costs of the bill were offset, though only partially, through a combination of cuts in payments to Medicare providers and increases in costs to Medicare beneficiaries. 


Those voting against the measure, mainly because they objected to the fact that its costs were not entirely offset, were Senators Cruz, (R-TX), Lee (R-UT), Perdue (R-GA), Rubio (R-FL), Sasse (R-NE), Scott (R-SC), Sessions (R-AL), and Shelby (R-AL).

For more details, see
this article from The Hill.