Healthcare groups use ads to lobby lawmakers on Medicare bill

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Congress may be on break this week, but two industry groups launched ads spurring the Senate to take action on a Medicare bill that affects nursing home residents and other older adults when it returns from the Fourth of July recess.

The American Medical Association unveiled an advertising campaign to encourage passing the bill, H.R. 6331. Targeted towards opponents of the legislation, the ads say the issue boils down to a choice: insurance company profits, or seniors and disabled vets who will lose their access to healthcare. Meanwhile, insurance lobbyists are working on their own anti-H.R. 6331 advertising blitz. They argue that the cuts to Medicare Advantage plans that would fund the bill would limit choices, reduce benefits and pass on higher costs to seniors.

This week, two actions went into effect: the expiration of the exceptions process for Part B outpatient therapy caps, and a freeze on an expected cut in Medicare physician payments. Therapy caps, which affect nursing home residents, impose a $1,810 limit on physical therapy and speech therapy combined and $1,810 on occupational therapy for nursing home residents. Residents in Medicare-certified beds at a skilled nursing facility will not have therapeutic services covered past $1,810, according to a note from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Others who exceed the cap, however, may obtain medically necessary therapy services at a hospital.