Thursday, February 11, 2016

President’s Budget Sent to Hill

Drew Thies

President Obama Tuesday sent his $4.23 trillion budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2017 to the Hill for approval. Compared with the current budget, the request would increases outlays by $196 billion and offset them with a $308 billion increase in revenues.

The White House said the budget would reduce the deficit by $2.9 trillion over 10 years while eliminated the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration.

The budget was met with opposition from Republicans in both chambers of Congress before its full text was even released and faces an almost certain demise on the Hill. Republicans have begun crafting their budget plan but final details have not yet been released.

The President’s budget includes $376 billion in health care savings, some of which affect skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).

Provisions that included in previous White House budgets returned in the latest iteration. The President called for a market basket reduction for SNFs and other post-acute care providers, further reductions in Medicare bad debt reimbursement, a bundled payment program for post-acute care, and adjustment of the standard for classifying a facility as an Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility.

Mike Cheek, Senior Vice President, Finance Policy and Legal Affairs for the American Health Care Association (AHCA), released a statement expressing disappointment in some of the administration’s returning proposals, including bundling and bad debt reimbursement reductions.

“The post-acute care bundled payment proposal in this year’s budget appears to be identical to previous legislative budget proposals. Medicare payments to post-acute care providers would suffer nearly a 3 percent reduction in only five years. This bundling proposal is merely a rate cut, not a meaningful reform of our payment and delivery system,” said Cheek.

Also included in the budget is a new request for implementation of a budget-neutral value-based purchasing program before 2018. AHCA is supportive of these moves toward payment proposals that fairly award quality advancement in SNFs and looks forward to working with the administration and lawmakers as these efforts are advanced.

AHCA/NCAL will continue to monitor the budget request and its myriad provisions as they are addressed and taken up by Congress.

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