House passes technical corrections to healthcare programs

The House on Wednesday approved legislation providing technical clarifications to a number of federal healthcare programs, including Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Tricare, which caters to the nation’s veterans.  

Among the changes, the bill would: 

• Clarify that disabled veterans are eligible for a year-long special enrollment period for Medicare Part B, which began in March; 

• Ensure that skilled nursing facilities are reimbursed under a refined payment system that launches in October;

• Clarify that qualifying children’s hospitals remain eligible for discounts on so-called orphan drugs under the 340B program;

• Provide funding to the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services to reprocess certain provider claims filed this year, as required by the Democrats’ new healthcare reform law.

• Fund the clarifications by dipping into the Medicare Improvement Fund.

The bill, which passed unanimously, now moves to the Senate.

“This time-sensitive and noncontroversial legislation strengthens the programs that protect the health of our senior citizens, veterans and children,” Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), chairman of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, said in a statement. “I urge the Senate to act quickly on this bill.”