On February 11, 2009, House and Senate leaders announced that they have reached agreement on a $790 billion economic stimulus package that includes a number of health care policy provisions. According to a preliminary summary released February 12, the final agreement includes:
- $19 billion to accelerate the adoption of health information technology systems;
- Strengthened federal privacy and security provisions to protect personally-identifiable health information;
- Approximately $87 billion in additional federal matching funds over two years to help states maintain their Medicaid programs in the face of state budget shortfalls;
- $1.1 billion to support comparative effectiveness research;
- $1 billion for a new Prevention and Wellness Fund; and
- Provisions to help unemployed workers maintain health insurance coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) law.
A separate summary released by the Senate Finance Committee highlights additional policies, including:
- A provision blocking a fiscal year 2009 reduction in Medicare payments to teaching hospitals related to capital payments for indirect medical education;
- A provision blocking a fiscal year 2009 Medicare payment cut to hospice providers related to a wage index payment add-on;
- Technical corrections to the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 related to Medicare payments for long-term care hospitals;
- A temporary increase in states’ annual disproportionate share hospital allotments;
- An extention of moratoria on Medicaid regulations for targeted case management, provider taxes, and school-based administration and transportation services through June 30, 2009, and a new moratorium on a Medicaid regulation related to hospital outpatient services through June 30, 2009;
- An extension of Transitional Medical Assistance and the Qualified Individual program; and
- And Medicaid prompt payment requirements for nursing facilities and hospitals.
When finalized, the text of the legislation should be available at the House Rules Committee web site. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the legislation as soon as this week. Information on the versions of the measure approved earlier by the House and Senate is available here.