Congress may delay vote on therapy caps bill, other Medicare legislation

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Nursing homes are pushing Congress to pass bills that would eliminate caps on Medicare therapy, but lawmakers may not act on any type of Medicare-related legislation this year, news reports say.

Movement on Medicare bills likely will not occur until after Congress recesses in August. Then, Republican leaders in the House and Senate may try to delay action on legislation until after the midterm elections this November, observers say.

Several bills pertaining to changes in the Medicare system are already on the table for debate. Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and Rep. Phil English (R-PA) have introduced bills (S 438 and HR 916, respectively) that would repeal the outpatient therapy caps. Providers are in favor of eliminating the caps or delaying their full restart, which is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2007. A sweeping exceptions process now exempts many patients from being negatively affected by the caps.