August 01, 2017

The Healthcare Bill You’ve Never Heard Of

The Medicare Part B Improvement Act is sober policy in a frenzied political world

by Chris Thomas

While the Senate Republicans have been hogging the national spotlight with their healthcare bill in crisis, the House passed, with little fanfare or notice, a measure to make some updates and improvements to Medicare Part B. Despite the charged atmosphere of partisan venom and vitriol, it’s a surprisingly practical bill with no hind of political gamesmanship or guile.

Why It Matters

The major change introduced in H.R. 3178 is a change to the Social Security Act which seeks to improve the delivery of home infusion and dialysis treatments. Proponents of the bill point to numerous studies showing reduced costs and better patient outcomes for infusion and dialysis programs which feature in-home treatment.

Opponents of H.R. 3178 are politically suspicious of the Republican party. The bill was introduced by Kevin Brady (R-TX 8). While much of the comment and discussion of the bill refers to a lack of transparency, the bill’s text has since been published and is available for public review. The CBO indicates that the bill would increase federal spending to cover the the infusion costs but cut $25 million from the Medicare fee-for-service program to partially cover those costs.

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Who to talk to

The Medicare Part B Improvement Act is presently before the Senate Finance committee. While the entire Senate may eventually have its say on the issue and letters to any Senator are important, these Senators have somewhat more control over the fate of this bill by virtue of their committee assignment.

  • Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
  • Mike Crapo (R-ID)
  • Pat Roberts (R-KS)
  • Michael B. Enzi (R-WY)
  • John Cornyn (R-TX)
  • John Thune (R-SD)
  • Richard Burr (R-NC)
  • Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
  • Rob Portman (R-OH)
  • Patrick J. Toomey (R-PA)
  • Dean Heller (R-NV)
  • Tim Scott (R-SC)
  • Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
  • Minority Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
  • Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
  • Bill Nelson (D-FL)
  • Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
  • Thomas R. Carper (D-DE)
  • Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD)
  • Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
  • Michael F. Bennet (D-CO)
  • Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA)
  • Mark R. Warner (D-VA)
  • Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
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