Summary: S.2603 — 105th Congress (1997-1998)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.2603. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (10/09/1998)


Title I: Promoting Access to Health Care Services in Rural

Areas Under the Medicare Program

Title II: Additional Provisions to Address Shortages of

Health Professionals in Rural Areas

Title III: Development of Telehealth Networks

Title IV: Miscellaneous Provisions

Promoting Health in Rural Areas Act of 1998 - Title I: Promoting Access to Health Care Services in Rural Areas Under the Medicare Program - Amends part C (Medicare+Choice) of title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act (SSA) to make certain adjustments to the calculation of annual capitation rates used in determining payments to Medicare+Choice organizations.

(Sec. 102) Amends the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to convert into a permanently authorized program the current demonstration program for direct billing of Medicare, Medicaid (SSA title XIX), and other third party payors by Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and Alaska Native health organizations.

(Sec. 103) Amends Medicare to: (1) revise payment requirements for sole community hospitals with regard to the substitution of certain allowable operating costs for base cost reporting periods beginning with discharges occurring in FY 2000; (2) provide for conversion of certain recently closed hospitals to critical access hospitals; (3) make certain technical amendments with regard to adjustments for graduate medical education, both indirect and direct; (4) modify the Medicare-dependent, small rural hospital program to provide for a reduction in the discharge percentage required for any hospital to be eligible to participate in the program; (5) provide for rural representation on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission; (6) provide for Medicare coverage of qualified mental health professional services; and (7) provide for an all-inclusive payment rate option (in addition to the current reasonable cost method) for outpatient critical access hospital services.

(Sec. 109) Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish a waiver process in which entities and individuals under Medicare that are located in an urban or large urban area for purposes of Medicare reimbursement may apply to the Secretary to be considered to be located in a rural area for such purposes if such entity or individual is located in a rural area or outside of an urbanized area.

Title II: Additional Provisions to Address Shortages of Health Professionals in Rural Areas - Amends the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) to include among health professional shortage areas frontier areas with six or fewer residents per square mile. Requires the Secretary to consider any pending retirements or resignations of available physicians when determining whether to designate an area as a health professional shortage area.

(Sec. 202) Amends the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to exclude from an individual's gross income certain amounts received under the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program under PHSA.

(Sec. 203) Amends Federal civil service law to provide for the designation of underserved areas under health care contracts administered by the Office of Personnel Management.

(Sec. 204) Amends the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA '97) to extend Medicare reimbursement for telehealth services to all Medicare items and services in all rural areas, including services by physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Requires the entire payment for telehealth services to go to the consulting physician instead of being split with the referring physician. Adds additional congressional reporting requirements pertaining to such program.

(Sec. 205) Expresses the sense of the Congress that States should establish a system that facilitates the provision of telehealth services across State lines.

(Sec. 206) Redesignates the Joint Working Group on Telemedicine as the Joint Working Group on Telehealth, with the chairperson being designated by the Office for the Advancement on Telehealth. Directs the Joint Working Group to ensure that individuals representing the interests of rural areas are members of the Group. Establishes the mission of the Joint Working Group, among other things, as identifying, monitoring, and coordinating Federal telehealth projects and programs. Authorizes appropriations.

Title III: Development of Telehealth Networks - Directs the Secretary to provide specified financial assistance for the purpose of expanding access to health care services for individuals in rural and frontier areas through the use of telehealth. Authorizes appropriations.

Title IV: Miscellaneous Provisions - Amends IRC with regard to the non-deductible interest expense of financial institutions allocable to tax-exempt income, and the limited exception from such non-deductibility for interest expense on certain tax-exempt small issuer obligations. Allows a small issuer, the proceeds of whose obligations are to be used to make or finance eligible loans for health care or educational purposes, to elect to apply specified current limitations on the amount of obligations by treating each borrower as the issuer of a separate issue.

(Sec. 402) Requires the heads of the National Health Service Corps, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, and the Bureau of the Census to negotiate and enter into interagency agreements with HHS agencies and offices under which they will be provided access to data sets for the intramural and extramural research they conduct or support.