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Rural Pass-Through Provision included in Newly Introduced Senate Legislation

Thursday, October 13, 2011

On October 12, Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS), John Barrasso (R-WY), Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the “Craig Thomas Rural Hospital and Provider Equity Act of 2011 (R-HoPE).”  This legislation contains ASA supported anesthesia rural pass-through provisions that would increase rural patients’ access to high quality anesthesia services provided by an anesthesiologist.  Legislation containing a similar provision - H.R. 1044, the “Medicare Access to Rural Anesthesiology Act" - was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year.  

Medicare normally pays for the services of anesthesia providers using the Medicare Part B fee schedule. However, low Part B payments and low patient volume make retention of anesthesia providers difficult for some rural hospitals.  Under current Medicare policy, certain small rural hospitals may use Medicare Part A funds on a “pass-through” basis to pay for the services of anesthesiologist assistants and nurse anesthetists.  When this policy was created in the 1980s, it did not include a provision that would permit hospitals to use pass-through funds for anesthesiologists. Section 20 of this legislation would resolve this disparity oversight and increase patient access to anesthesiology care in medically underserved areas throughout the United States. 

Learn more about rural pass-through.

Review the press release announcing the legislation.

Review the summary of the legislation.

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