SGR Patch Not Part of Debt-Limit Package: Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH) hastily convened a meeting with his caucus earlier this week to discuss his plan to boehnerpass legislation that would extend the nation’s debt-limit that is set to expire on February 27. Initially, House leaders had planned to attach policy riders to the bill, including a nine-month patch for the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). However, NASS, along with over 100 national/state medical societies, sent a letter to Congressional leaders this week expressing joint concerns over extending an SGR patch through the end of the year. The letter encourages leaders of both parties to finish the work of the joint House and Senate committees, and pass legislation to permanently repeal the SGR this year. In addition, NASS is still considering full support for the recently introduced bi-partisan, bi-cameral SGR legislation that was released last week. More information will be forthcoming once a formal decision has been made by NASS leadership.

CMS’ Open Payments Program Begins: The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the agency will begin collecting data on February 18 from certain manufacturers and applicable group purchasing organizations with respect to payments they make to health care providers, including gifts, consulting fees and research activities. A second phase of the PPACA’s “Sunshine Act” Open Payments system will begin in May, under which manufacturers will submit additional, detailed payment information. For more information, please click here.

CMS Delays EHR Attestation: On February 7, CMS announced a one-month delay for the deadline for physicians to show that they have met the requirements of the meaningful use program. CMS said the extension allows providers to send data and receive incentive payments for last year, as well as avoid penalties in 2015. More information can be found here.

CMS Allows Hospitals to Phase-in Two-Midnight Rule: The CMS announced last week that physicians are required to certify and accept responsibility for any Medicare inpatient admission prior to a patient’s discharge under the Two-Midnight rule which provides for presumptive Medicare Part A coverage for stays over such period. More information can be found here.