WASHINGTON – Four health care bills from Sen. Chuck Grassley will receive consideration by the committee of jurisdiction, the Finance Committee, on Wednesday. A fifth bill of which Grassley is the primary cosponsor also will receive consideration. The bills cover physical therapy in Medicare, financial trusts for individuals with disabilities, rural hospitals, community-based independence for seniors in Medicare, and quality care for mothers and children in Medicaid.
“These bills fill gaps and try new solutions to improve health care,” Grassley said. “They’re all bipartisan and non-controversial. I appreciate the Finance Committee chairman’s decision to put these proposals on the agenda, and I’ll continue to work toward their enactment.”
The Grassley bills set for committee consideration are:
• S. 313, the Prevent Interruptions in Physical Therapy Act (including lead Democrat Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, with 19 cosponsors, eight Republicans, 11 Democrats). The bill allows physical therapists locum tenens rights under Medicare. Locum tenens is the Latin phrase for “place holder.” Under current law, practicing physicians utilize locum tenens arrangements to have qualified substitute physicians, who are not employees of the physician, serve as “place holders” to provide care to their patients during short periods of absence. This bill will give physical therapists the same rights.
• S. 349, the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (with Democrats Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan). Under current law, individuals with disabilities cannot set up a special needs trust for themselves even when they are able. This bill fixes that discriminatory exclusion.
• S. 607, the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Extension Act (including lead Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, with 14 cosponsors, 10 Republicans, four Democrats). This bill extends the rural hospital demonstration program for five years for a number of “tweener” hospitals. In Iowa, it benefits hospitals in Newton, Grinnell, Carroll, and Spirit Lake.
• S. 704, the Community Based Independence for Seniors Act (with Democrats Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York). This bill creates a Medicare demonstration to expand the Special Needs Plan program to allow for 5,000 people to receive community-based benefits. It is a small but novel proposal for Medicare that could be expanded eventually.
Grassley is the lead Republican co-sponsor of the following led by Stabenow:
• S. 466, the Quality Care for Moms and Babies Act. This bill provides for quality collaboration, including sharing best practices, and reporting standards for Medicaid for childbirth to improve quality.
More information on the Finance Committee session is available here.
Grassley is a senior member and former chairman of the Finance Committee.