Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced the Primary Care and Health Workforce Expansion Act on July 19, legislation that would reauthorize and expand a number of health care workforce programs and impose drastic reductions in hospital outpatient department payments. The legislation will be considered at a July 26 HELP Committee markup.
Among other provisions, the Primary Care and Health Workforce Expansion Act would extend and provide new funding for programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), including the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), community health centers, children’s hospitals graduate medical education, rural residency planning and development, teaching health centers graduate medical education, and several health professions and nursing education programs under Titles VII and VIII of the Public Health Service Act. It would also provide 10,000 new Medicare-supported graduate medical education positions.
The legislation also includes drastic cuts to hospitals and health systems and would impose so-called site neutral payment policies on commercial payment rates. The policy relies on the use of the qualifying payment amount (QPA) set forth in the No Surprises Act (P.L. 116-260) to set rates for certain items and services furnished in hospital outpatient departments. The legislation also includes additional restrictions on facility fees and billing. The AAMC strongly opposes so-called site neutral payment policies [refer to Washington Highlights, May 5].
Upon release of the legislation, HELP Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy, MD, (R-La.) denounced the proposal, lamenting its lack of bipartisanship, inclusion of programs outside of the committee’s jurisdiction, and conversion of some discretionary programs into mandatory programs. Cassidy released his own bill extending certain HRSA programs a week earlier [refer to Washington Highlights, July 14].