The House Energy and Commerce Committee has approved by voice vote the following bipartisan bills addressing the Medicare Part B program:

  • HR 3245, which would significantly increase various Medicare civil and criminal penalties under sections 1128A and 1128B of the Social Security Act. Sponsors of the bill note these penalties have not been updated in 20 years. Maximum penalties would at least double under the bill. For instance, CMPs that are now $10,000 would be increased to $20,000, while criminal fines that are now a maximum of $25,000 would increase to $100,000. Maximum sentences also would be doubled, from five years to 10 years.
  • HR 1148, the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine Act, to provide for Medicare reimbursement of neurological consults via telemedicine for beneficiaries presenting at hospitals or mobile stroke units.
  • HR 2465, the Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act, to make permanent current coverage of speech generating devices under the “routinely purchased” durable medical equipment payment category.
  • HR 2557, the Prostate Cancer Misdiagnosis Elimination Act, to provide coverage of DNA Specimen Provenance Assay testing for prostate cancer.
  • HR 3120, to amend the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act to remove the mandate that meaningful use standards become more stringent over time.
  • HR 3263, to extend for two years the Medicare Independence at Home Medical Practice Demonstration Program.
  • HR 3271, to revise Medicare competitive bidding rules pertaining to diabetes test strips, including stronger enforcement of requirement that bidders cover at least 50 percent of the types of diabetes test strips on the market.

The panel also advanced –- by party-line vote -– legislation to extend Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding through FY 2022 (HR 3921) and to extend various community health center and public health programs (HR 3922). Democratic members of the panel voiced opposition to the funding offsets for the bills, which include a reduction in funding for the ACA Prevention and Public Health Fund, an increase in income-related Medicare Part B and D premiums, a reductions in Medicaid disproportionate share hospital payments, and Medicaid third party liability reforms. The House is expected to vote on the CHIP bill the week of October 30. The Senate Finance Committee approved a separate 5-year CHIP reauthorization bill (S 1827), which does not include offsets, by voice vote.