Senator Stevens Cosponsors Hospice Protection Act
Bill Would Prevent a Decrease in Medicare Payments to Hospice Providers
Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) today cosponsored the bipartisan Hospice Protection Act of 2008 (S.3484). The bill was authored by Senators Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa); it would protect Medicare beneficiaries' access to hospice care.
Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed a rule that would reduce reimbursement rates to hospice providers. If implemented as scheduled on October 1, 2008, it will result in a $2.3 billion decrease in hospice payments over the next five years. This legislation would place a one year moratorium on that rule.
"We believe that hospice care is a fundamental part of Medicare benefits," said Senator Stevens. "With the current situation in the financial markets, this is no time for Medicare benefits to be cut. People have it hard enough."
Last July, Senator Stevens authored an amendment which passed into law that permanently raised Medicare payment rates for physicians in Alaska. His provision provides for an approximate 35 percent increase in Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians in Alaska.
"Alaska's senior citizens got a big win when Congress passed Medicare reform into law in July," added Senator Stevens. "This Hospice Protection Act would make sure that these benefits are not taken out the backdoor."