Wednesday, January 13, 2016

AHCA’s Clif Porter Gives Reporters Legislative Outlook for 2016

Drew Thies

AHCA’s top government relations expert weighed in with reporters Monday to discuss the outlook for the long term and post-acute care sector in 2016.

Clif Porter, Senior Vice President of Government Relations, detailed what he predicts will be a quieter year legislatively, but a very busy one for the current administration and their regulators. "Election year politics have a tendency to slow the legislative process to a halt while the President may ramp up administrative activity," Porter said.

At the front of the picture was the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act, for which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) must develop new measures in 2016. The IMPACT Act, signed into law in 2014, lays out a multiyear path for better record keeping and quality tracking amongst post-acute care providers, but leaves CMS the responsibility of crafting exactly how to define certain metrics.

Porter warned that CMS must be deliberate about how they craft measures, saying "if they move too fast, particularly in a year where the agency is already going to be busy, poor tests of quality could be established, undermining the overall goal of the IMPACT Act."

Presidents in the last year of their second term have historically used executive power as a far reaching tool to implement their policy wishes in lieu of going through the legislative process. Porter saw no reason to believe the current administration would not pursue the same path.

In addition to regulatory concerns, Porter also indicated that AHCA will continue to pursue bipartisan policies that can be agreed upon even during the contentious politics of an election year.

Finding a solution to the observation status problem remains a priority for AHCA. Beneficiaries found some relief in 2015 with the passage of the Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility (NOTICE) Act, which mandates that hospitals inform patients of their observation status. Patients are still at risk, however, of being denied Medicare coverage following a hospital stay if they were under observation rather than inpatient status.

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