WASHINGTON — House Republicans are floating several draft bills that would significantly affect the hospital industry, including some with far-reaching policies that would authorize Medicare to pay hospitals the identical amount for the same service, regardless of where the service was performed.
The bills — which are far from clearing Congress and being signed into law — would address a problem that legislators and policymakers have targeted for years.
Hospitals increasingly have acquired physician offices and converted them into “hospital outpatient departments.” Nothing about the clinics changes — the services and IV drugs patients receive are exactly the same — except that the hospital then bills patients and health insurers additional “facility fees.” Hospitals have argued the added payments, worth tens of billions of dollars annually, help cover their overhead costs. But patient groups, insurers, and policymakers say the higher payments lead to unwarranted profiteering and more consolidation.
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