Obama Quietly Signs SGR Patch Bill

John Commins, April 2, 2014

The new law delays both the implementation of the ICD-10 code set and the so-called two-midnight rule, which affects hospital reimbursements. The law also includes critical funding extensions for rural hospitals.

President Barack Obama late Tuesday night quietly signed a bill rushed through Congress in the last five days. It delays for one year a 24% cut in Medicare reimbursements mandated under the Sustainable Growth Rate funding formula. It also delays for one year the ICD-10 coding set implementation deadline and the so-called two-midnights rule.

There was no signing ceremony and the president offered no comments for or against theProtecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (H.R.4302).

Instead, the White House press office issued a terse statement noting that the bill delays mandated SGR cuts until April 1, 2015, the 17th such delay in the past 11 years. The White House also acknowledged that the bill's intent is to "extend other health-related provisions set to expire, and to make other changes to current-law health provisions."

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Those changes include two other controversial and costly provisions stuck inside the 121-page bill. They delay by one year both the implementation of the ICD-10 medical coding set and the two-midnights rule.

H.R.4302 passed the House last Thursday in just 25 seconds during a hastily convened voice vote. There was no debate and there is no record of how the votes were cast.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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