WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives on March 26 unanimously passed Rep. Raul Ruiz’s, CA-36, bipartisan bill, H.R. 1839, the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act.

This legislation makes a number of critical reforms and improvements to Medicaid, helping children, individuals with mental health issues, and seniors access the care they need. The bill, which Ruiz refers to as “common sense,” also cracks down on drug companies using deceptive practices to increase their bottom line.

This legislation needs to be signed into law before March 31, 2019, to prevent some of the programs it supports from expiring, cutting off support for seniors and individuals with mental health issues.

“As an emergency medicine physician, I cared for patients who worried about going bankrupt to pay for health care, and children with rare illnesses whose parents struggled to afford lifesaving medications,” Dr. Raul Ruiz said in a prepared statement. “My bipartisan bill, H.R. 1839, the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act, will strengthen Medicaid to help individuals who have slipped through the cracks of our health care system, including seniors, individuals with disabilities, and children with complex medical needs. My bill will also help address high prescription drug costs by preventing pharmaceutical companies from using deceptive practices to cheat state Medicaid programs. This is a bill that puts patients first, and I look forward to seeing it signed into law soon.”

Without this bill spouses may be forced to send their loved one to a nursing home, rather than benefiting from care delivered to their home. In addition, the bill will help reduce the burden on families with children who have complex medical conditions by improving the coordination of their care with a focus on meeting each individual family’s needs.

H.R. 1839 is bipartisan legislation comprised of five main reforms and/or program extensions.

  • The bill includes the ACE Kids Act, bipartisan legislation that gives states the flexibility to coordinate the most effective care for children with medically complex needs.
  • The bill includes provisions to crack down on drug companies cheating the Medicaid program by not paying proper rebates on their drugs, while ensuring patients who depend on these drugs continue to have access to them.
  • The bill extends “spousal impoverishment” protections for families where one spouse requires expensive home or community-based care. Unless the bill is passed, families will either need to send their loved one to a nursing home or face impoverishment to ensure their spouse gets the care they need.
  • The bill also expands the successful “Money Follows the Person” program, which helps transition individuals from institution-based care, such as nursing homes, back into their community and home.
  • The bill extends funding for certain states participating in the Excellence in Mental Health Act demonstration program, which established guidelines for the creation of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) to help rural patients access mental health care.

The bipartisan bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Image Sources

  • Medicaid: Shutterstock