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Congress Prepares to End Automatic Cuts to Medicare Provider Payments

December 20, 2013 - After successful votes in the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees last week, Congress is on the verge of permanently eliminating the system of Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) cuts to Medicare providers.

The Senate and House Committees each passed a different bill that would eliminate the SGR, avoiding a 26 percent cut to Medicare provider payments, while enacting several key Medicare reforms for nurses, including allowing Nurse Practitioners to receive value-based purchasing payments during the first year they are available and allowing advanced practice nurses to receive chronic care coordination payments.

A conference committee will be meeting soon to discuss and resolve minor differences in the two bills.

One reform that did not make the final version of either bill was the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act Amendment. This amendment would have allowed Nurse Practitioners to independently order home health care services for their Medicare patients. In less than 24 hours, ONA members sent more than 80 emails to Senators asking that this amendment be included.

While the Home Health Care amendment was not included at this time, your advocacy helped draw attention to this important issue and gives ONA and our partner organizations momentum to continue advocating for this important issue.

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