House committee passes bill delaying '75% rule' for a year

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The House Appropriations Committee passed by voice vote Wednesday a spending bill for the Department of Health and Human Services that includes a one-year delay on the "75% rule."

Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Zach Wamp (R-TN) wrote the amendment delaying the rule for a year to give the Institute of Medicine time to study its potential impact on facilities. The rule, which went into effect July 1, states 75% of a hospital's patients must fall into a defined set of conditions by 2007 for the hospital to receive rehab rates.

The spending bill also has an amendment by Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) that would forbid the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services from withholding information about Medicare from Congress.

The bill would give HHS $63.2 billion in discretionary funding and $374.3 billion in total funding, with mandatory spending included. The full House is expected to vote on it next week.