INTRODUCTION OF THE PRESERVING PATIENT ACCESS TO INPATIENT REHABILITATION HOSPITALS ACT OF 2005 -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 21, 2005)
HON. FRANK A. LoBIONDO
OF NEW JERSEY
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THURSDAY, JULY 21, 2005
Mr. LoBIONDO. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the ``Preserving Patient Access to Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospitals Act of 2005.'' This important piece of legislation will ensure that patients across America will continue to have access to the rehabilitative care they need, and that experts in this community are organized to advise and make recommendations to Congress and the appropriate federal agencies based on the realities and challenges facing the rehabilitative field today and in the future.
Rehabilitation hospitals provide essential care to patients recovering from conditions such as stroke, hip replacement, and cardio-pulmonary disease. They treat patients young and old, temporarily and permanently disabled. They allow their patients not only the chance to recover quicker, but to resume active and high quality lifestyles.
Unfortunately, with each passing month fewer and fewer Americans will have access to the unique care and services that rehab hospitals provide. A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) policy, commonly known as the ``75% Rule'', is being enforced in such a way that many patients, often regardless of their unique and pressing needs, are being turned away from facilities that could otherwise provide them with the best available care.
The ``75% Rule'' requires a rehab facility to ensure that a percentage of its patients are receiving treatment for one or more conditions as specified by Medicare. When the current rule went into effect in July of 2004, 50% of a rehab facility's admissions were required to fall within the list of conditions, on July 1st this percentage rose to 60%, and will continue to rise until it returns to 75% in 2007. According to a Government Accountability Office report, many rehab facilities will not be able to meet this 75% threshold required at full implementation of the rule.
In an effort to comply with the 75% Rule over the past year, thousands of patients across the country have been turned away from the care they desperately need. Rehab hospitals have been forced to tell patients recovering from cancer and strokes to look elsewhere for care, and have been forced instead to leave beds empty and reduce their staffs so that they can continue to provide care to the patients they are still able to treat. And with each coming year the situation will only get more dire.
The ``Preserving Patient Access to Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospitals Act of 2005'' will help ease this problem by allowing hospitals additional time to figure out how to ensure they are in compliance with CMS's rules, while still providing the unique care and services they are able to provide to the patients most in need. It will also create a National Advisory Council on Medical Rehabilitation to ensure that future policies created by Federal agencies and Congress reflect the realities and challenges facing the field of rehabilitative care without denying needed care to patients.
The American Hospital Association, American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association, Federation of American Hospitals and numerous other associations and advocacy groups join me in supporting the ``Preserving Patient Access to Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospitals Act of 2005.'' Their members are seeing first hand the devastating effect the ``75% Rule'' is having on those in need of rehab care today and the enormous impact further implementation of this Rule will have.
Each and every day, patients across America are being denied the rehab care they need and deserve and which could be available to them. I urge you to speak for them and to support the ``Preserving Patient Access to Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospitals Act of 2005.''