Congress Uses 21st Century Tools to Improve SMART Legislation – Bill Passes Subcommittee
Roy Franco
September 12, 2012

Congratulations to all MARC members!  Yesterday, the Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee successfully completed “markup” and passage of the SMART Act.  Prior to vote, substitution language was introduced by Congressman Tim Murphy which improved the bill by mandating the use of technology.  The new language replaced notice to Medicare by correspondence that triggered a Conditional Payment Demand Letter with the ability to leverage the Medicare web portal in certain situations to get the final Medicare number.  The new amendment saves time and allows for immediate reimbursement to Medicare, but more importantly the parties can settle having a reliable conditional payment value.  A win-win-win situation which the coalition has supported from the day it was formed.

The hearing, which lasted from 2:00 to about 4:00 pm yesterday, covered several other bills as well.  However, the SMART bill met no opposition and received wide acclaim and support from both sides of the aisle — Republicans and Democrats praised the bill as a needed fix to an urgent problem.  The bill, as amended by Representative Murphy’s “Amendment in the Nature of a Substitution,” passed unanimously by voice vote.

Yesterday was a big day for MARC, but we still have a lot of work to do to turn this bill into law.  From here, the bill (now amended) will need to go back to CBO for scoring, and we will address any issues (and there may be some issues) in the coming days.  We expect that the Full Energy and Commerce Committee will take up the legislation on September 20, and hopefully pass it in the same way as it was passed out of subcommittee today.

For SMART to get to the House floor, it must also be considered by the Ways and Means Committee.  Regrettably, Ways and Means has no health care legislation scheduled for consideration before the October recess.  Thus, we may have to wait until the lame duck session (after the November General Election) for their approval.   Notwithstanding,  Ways & Means staff are supportive of MARC’s approach and it’s just a matter of getting onto the schedule.

Right now we need to focus on the Senate.  Adoption by the Energy and Commerce Committee may be enough to spur the Senate into action and we need to be aggressively reaching out to the Senate in the coming days.  Critical to this process will be walking through the changes and any updates as they emerge.

This is huge success and for all of you that have supported MARC, thank you.  For a summary of the changes from SMART click here.  Congratulations to all.