Meadowbrook Care Center

AHA Opposes Legislation to Support Leading Rehab Centers

U.S. Capitol

U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La..), a gastroenterologist, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) recently introduced, S. 2204, entitled “Preserving Rehabilitation Innovation Centers Act, bipartisan legislation,” to support rehabilitation facilities that lead the nation in medical research. The Senate proposal, referred to the Senate Finance Committee, recognizes the unique role that a leading class of rehabilitation facilities play in the nation’s health care system by driving innovative research for the entire field, providing medical training to students, and serving the highest need patients across the country.

H.R. 1901, a companion version of the Senate bill, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Pete Olson (R-Texas).  The house proposal was introduced to the Committee on Ways and Means and to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The Chicago-based American Hospital Association (AHA), national organization that represents nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members, has expressed concern to Sens. Cassidy and Durbin to not reduce-introduce this legislation similar to what they had introduced last Congress (S. 2204). “While we appreciate your interest in [inpatient rehabilitation facilities], we are concerned with the bill’s extensive qualification parameters,” says AHA in correspondence highlighting a number of concerns with provisions of the bill.

AHA added, “Given the confusing combination of criteria in this legislation, the AHA cannot support this bill. Any future effort to divide the IRF field into sub-categories based on performance should be discussed first by a cross-setting mix of providers who evaluate the goals, design and value of such an endeavor to determine if it has merit for the field as a whole.”

Confronting Complex Conditions

“Brain injuries, nerve damage, complicated amputations—this bill is about giving hope to people grappling with these and other complex conditions,” said Cassidy. “By supporting the doctors and researchers providing the best evidence-based treatments, we can help more patients win their battle to return to wholeness,” he says.

“Rehabilitation facilities like the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in Chicago continue to lead the nation by bringing doctors and top researchers together to provide the highest quality care for patients with complex conditions. This bill will help recognize and support the most innovative institutions across the nation so they can continue to advance medical research, treat complex patients, and educate the next generation of researchers and medical professionals,” said Durbin.

According to Durbin, there are more than 1,100 operating Medicare-certified inpatient rehabilitation facilities across the nation.  Among these facilities are a small group of rehabilitation institutions that drive the future of rehabilitation care and medicine, as well as patient recovery, he said.

Durbin notes that these unique inpatient rehabilitation facilities conduct innovative research to advance the field of rehabilitation care, and treat the most complex conditions, such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, childhood disease, burns and wartime injuries. All of them are also not-for-profit or government-owned and serve a high volume of Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries, he says.

Specifically, the Preserving Rehabilitation Innovation Centers Act, defines “Rehabilitation Innovation Center” as a rehabilitation facility that provides care for patients with highly complex conditions, conducts multidisciplinary rehabilitation research, and sees a high number of Medicare beneficiaries.

The legislative proposal also calls on the independent Medicare Payment Advisory Committee to conduct a study on the adequacy of current payment rates for Rehabilitation Innovation Centers.  As the existing federal health care system moves away from the fee-for-service payment model toward more value-based care, the study directed by this legislative proposal will provide a framework as to how Rehabilitation Innovation Centers should be reimbursed.



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