Bush signs bill sure to lift providers' spirits

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Providers may feel more in the holiday mood next week, thanks to the swoosh of a certain leader's pen. This week President Bush signed a bill that favors providers with a reduced cut in the provider tax allowable ceiling rate and an extension of the therapy caps exceptions process.

The House and Senate passed the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (H.R. #6111) earlier this month, just before adjourning for the winter recess. The bill trims the maximum allowable Medicaid provider tax rate from 6% to 5.5% until 2011. The measure suits providers because the administration had threatened to cut the rate to 3%. Providers and states use the tax to gain state matching funds for Medicaid.

The legislation also extends for one year the Medicare Part B therapy caps exceptions process. Under the exceptions process, some Medicare beneficiaries – and many nursing home residents – can receive therapy beyond the $1,750 caps involving physical, speech and occupational therapy.