WASHINGTON (June 12, 2014) — Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK), co-chairs of the Congressional Native American Caucus, introduced H.R. 4843, the “Native Contract and Rate Expenditure (CARE) Act.”
The bill would extend the Medicare-Like rate cap on payments made by Purchased/Referred Care (PRC) (formerly Contract Health Services) programs at the Indian Health Service (IHS) and tribal levels to all Medicare participating providers and suppliers. The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) worked closely with McCollum and Cole’s offices to assist in the development of this legislation and is very pleased to see the bill introduced. The introduction of this legislation is an essential first step in allowing IHS and tribal health facilities spend precious PRC resources most effectively and efficiently.
NIHB Chairperson Cathy Abramson said, “We are very excited to see this important legislation introduced in the House of Representatives. This small technical change will ensure that our purchased/referred care dollars are going further, freeing up hundreds of millions of dollars for this critical program. If this legislation is enacted, our loved ones may finally be able to stop saying, ‘Don’t get sick after June 1.’ ”
In 2003, Congress sought to make PRC program dollars go further by amending the Medicare law to authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a cap on the rate PRC programs must pay hospitals for the services they provide to American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) referred under the PRC program. That rate was established as the “Medicare Like Rate.”
However, hospital services represent only a fraction of the services provided through the PRC system. The proposed legislation would mean that IHS and tribes are reimbursing all physicians in the same cost effective way as other federal health programs including the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
Read the full legislation here.
About the NIHB
Founded in 1972, NIHB is a 501(c) 3 not for profit, charitable organization providing health care advocacy services, facilitating tribal budget consultation and providing timely information, and other services to all tribal governments.
NIHB also conducts research, provides policy analysis, program assessment and development, national and regional meeting planning, training, technical assistance, program and project management. NIHB presents the tribal perspective while monitoring, reporting on and responding to federal legislation and regulations. It also serves as conduit to open opportunities for the advancement of American Indian and Alaska Native health care with other national and international organizations, foundations corporations and others in its quest to build support for, and advance, Indian health care issues.