The Senate Finance Committee marked up and advanced the Better Mental Health Care, Lower-Cost Drugs, and Extenders Act in a 26-0 vote on Nov. 8. The legislation included policies to expand mental health care and address pending Medicare and Medicaid payment cuts [refer to Washington Highlights, Nov. 3].
The bipartisan legislation would eliminate scheduled Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital cuts for fiscal years 2024 and 2025, mitigate an upcoming cut to physicians under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule by postponing the 1.25% statutory reduction remaining from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 (P.L. 117-328) [refer to Washington Highlights, Jan. 4], and extend advanced alternative payment model bonuses through calendar year 2026. It also includes provisions that would incentivize the integration of physical and behavioral health care through a temporary increase in reimbursement for certain Medicare behavioral health integration payment codes. The legislation would also permanently extend the state plan option established under the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (P.L.115-271) allowing Medicaid coverage for services rendered to certain enrollees who are patients of an institution for mental diseases. The legislation would be paid for with reductions to both the Medicare and Medicaid Improvement Funds.
During the markup, Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) offered and withdrew an amendment that would have provided 2,000 new Medicare-supported graduate medical education positions per fiscal year from 2024-2029. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) offered and withdrew an amendment that would impose so-called site-neutral payment policies services provided in hospital outpatient departments, which was modeled on her legislation, the Site-based Invoicing and Transparency Enhancement (SITE) Act (S. 1869) [refer to Washington Highlights, June 9].