February 03, 2005

Crapo Goes To Bat For Rehabilitation Facilities

Senator requests continued moratorium, study on Medicare rule change

Washington, DC â?? Idaho Senator Mike Crapo wants to keep seniors, persons with disabilities, and others from being hurt by a proposed Medicare rule change. Crapo joined with 79 Senate colleagues to protect Medicare reimbursements for Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRF), facilities which serve patients with a multitude of diagnoses including stroke, orthopedic conditions, arthritis, spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. Crapo and his colleagues sent a letter today to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson requesting that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) continue a moratorium on the â??75 percent rule,â?? a rule that restricts Medicare reimbursements to IRFs. â??Rehabilitation facilities throughout the nation provide essential health care for citizens,â?? Crapo said. â??These benefits come with a financial cost that often requires support from Medicare. The restrictive 75 percent rule has set a standard that many medical rehabilitation facilities cannot meet. The rule especially hurts seniors and persons with disabilities who are seeking quality medical attention. The rigidity of the 75 percent rule prevents Medicare from providing intended services to those in need.â??The rule requires 75 percent of patients at an IRF be diagnosed with one of ten qualifying medical conditions and receive intense rehabilitation services in order for the hospital to receive enhanced reimbursement payments from Medicare. The letter warns that the high standard proposed in the rule could jeopardize patient access to care. It reiterates a call that came from Crapo and others in Congress in October 2003 for the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to examine the impact of the 75 percent rule before any rule change. The letter also requests that a moratorium on the enforcement of the 75 percent rule continue or be extended until the rule is reviewed by the IOM. The letter states Congressâ?? overall goal of forming policies that â??reflect the consensus opinion of independent medical rehabilitation experts convened by IOM.â??Crapo, who helped kick-off National Menâ??s Health Week earlier this week, has worked on numerous health care issues during his time in the U.S. Senate. He is a sponsor of S. 1028, the Menâ??s Health Act of 2003, which will form an Office of Menâ??s Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. Crapo also serves as co-chair of the Congressional Heart-Stroke Caucus and is a cofounder of the recently formed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Caucus. Crapo, a cancer survivor himself, is committed to supporting legislation that improves the health care of the American people.# # #