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  • Writer's pictureAssociation of Academic Physiatrists

April 2021 Update

Legislation to Sustain Federal Commitment to Research Introduced

U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) has introduced two pieces of legislation designed to restore the United States’ commitment to scientific and biomedical research. The American Cures Act and the American Innovation Act would create mandatory funds to provide steady, predictable funding for breakthrough research at America’s top research agencies. Senator Durbin is sponsoring both the American Cures Act and the American Innovation Act in the Senate and Representative Bill Foster (D-IL) is sponsoring the American Innovation Act in the House.

The American Cures Act would provide annual mandatory budget increases of 5% plus inflation at America’s top four biomedical research agencies: the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense Health Program, and the Veterans Medical and Prosthetics Research Program.

The American Innovation Act would provide annual mandatory budget increases of 5% plus inflation for cutting edge research at five important federal research agencies: The National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, the Department of Defense Science and Technology Programs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Scientific and Technical Research Services, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Science Directorate.

The latest MedPAC report to Congress calls for no update to inpatient rehabilitation facilities. The March 2021 report from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, who are responsible for making Medicare payment recommendations to Congress, is making recommendations on data from 2019 but commission did factor in the pandemic when evaluating the payment rates. The report calls for a 2% update for inpatient and outpatient services for 2022 and weighs in on telehealth policies.

MedPAC reported to Congress that Fee-For-Service (FFS) payments to IRFs continue to exceed their costs. In addition, the Commission reiterates its March 2016 recommendations that (1) the high-cost outlier pool be expanded and (2) the Secretary conduct focused medical record reviews of IRFs. The full report can be found here.

MedPAC recommended that Congress temporarily continue some of the telehealth expansions for one to two years after the public health emergency ends rather than making them permanent. This delay will give lawmakers more time to gather evidence on the impact of telehealth on quality and Medicare spending. Congress is currently reviewing a number of pieces of legislation to extend telehealth both during the pandemic and after.

Update provided by Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP

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