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Senate Passes Medicare Reform Bill

This morning, the Senate passed the Medicare Reform bill following House passage last Friday. While the cornerstone of this legislation provides a new prescription drug benefit for seniors, the legislation also includes a provision blocking the 4.5% cut in Medicare payment scheduled for next year and ordered new conversion factors for the next two years. Health care providers will see "not less than" a 1.5% increase in Medicare payments in 2004 and another 1.5% increase the following year, according to the bill. After 2005, however, the payments are expected to decrease.

In addition to addressing the Medicare payment issue, this legislation also includes provisions on combating fraud and abuse, rural health care, administrative and regulatory reform, and a host of issues relating to provider services. A 2-year moratorium on therapy caps was included for OT, PT, and SLP's. 

President Bush is expected to sign the landmark legislation, which is the first major overhaul of the Medicare program in nearly 40 years.

Should you have any questions, please contact Jodi Chappell, Director of Health Care Policy at jchappell@audiology.org.

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