President signs Medicare extenders bill, Congress passes bill to create HHS national Alzheimer's project

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President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

President Obama this week signed a measure that will extend the therapy caps exceptions process through 2011, restore the implementation date of RUG-IV to 2010 and delay a Medicare payment cut to doctors.

Long-term care providers hailed Congress's passage of the measure last week. Therapy caps, which amount to about $1,860 for speech and physical therapy and $1,860 for occupational therapy, pose a severe problem for nursing home residents. The RUG-IV fix, which will keep the current classification system in place, also was a welcome development.

Meanwhile, Congress also has passed a bill that would create a National Alzheimer's Project within the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill's goal is to accelerate the development of treatments that would prevent, halt or reverse Alzheimer's, and improve the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's and treatment. The project would set up an advisory council with representatives from government agencies that would work with healthcare providers, scientific experts and Alzheimer's caregivers.

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