Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate returned from a seven-week election recess this week for a brief “lame duck” session. The priority is to keep the federal government funded beyond Dec. 9 to avert a partial shutdown.

Although Republican leaders would like to wrap up spending bills and not clutter up next year’s agenda, the likely outcome is another short-term funding extension that would punt the bills into next year.

In a letter to members of Congress, the American Hospital Association (AHA) outlined healthcare priorities for the remainder of the 114th Congress. Specifically, there are five issues in which immediate action is requested. They include:

  • Addressing the consequences of the Bipartisan Budget Act on Medicare outpatient payment to hospital-based clinics that were under development at the time of passage
  • Establishing a socioeconomic adjustment in the readmissions program
  • Extending the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Program
  • Addressing “25% Rule” relief for long-term care hospitals
  • Ensuring flexibility in physician supervision for critical access hospitals

It was noted that all of these priorities would have a meaningful impact on access to care and are included in legislation that has been introduced this session; some have already passed one body of Congress.