WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) announced that legislation based on their proposal to give states more flexibility and time to implement electronic verification systems to better serve patients was passed by the Senate. Their proposal now heads to the President’s desk to become law.

Earlier this year Brown, Portman, and Murkowski introduced a bipartisan bill to delay the implementation of a provision contained in the 21st Century Cures Act law that requires states implement Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) systems for personal care services and ensure individuals who receive these services have a voice in the implementation process. Last night, the Senate took up and unanimously passed a House version of the bill that was based heavily on the Brown/Portman/Murkowski legislation. The bill now awaits President Trump’s signature.  

The EVV system requires healthcare providers to use an electronic system to confirm that personal care services are delivered and billed accurately. The Senators’ proposal sought to delay this new Medicaid requirement for one year in order to give states the proper time to set up effective EVV systems, and emphasize the need for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to solicit stakeholder comments prior to finalizing regulations related to implementation to ensure the concerns of the patient and provider communities are taken into account.

“This is too important to rush – we must take the time to get it right. Our proposal aimed to ensure communities across the state – whether they are rural or urban – have the time and flexibility they need to get electronic verification systems up and running, and provide an opportunity for the Ohioans who rely on Medicaid for personal care services, and those who deliver those services, to make their voices heard during the process,” said Senator Brown.

“Electronic Visit Verification systems are key to ensuring that the most vulnerable Ohioans receive the care that they need.  However, these systems can be complex, and it’s important that Ohioans can engage in the development of these systems and that states have the flexibility to effectively implement these requirements,” said Senator Portman.

“Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) systems will help validate the delivery and billing of services, reducing potential waste and fraud, and improving the health and well-being of patients throughout Alaska. I am supportive of allowing states the flexibility to select EVV designs that will best serve them, and States need the time that allows them to do so in a thoughtful, considerate manner,” said Senator Murkowski. “The delay in implementation that this legislation provides will ensure Alaskans have the opportunity to develop an EVV system that incorporates the feedback of Alaskan stakeholders and providers, ensuring patients have the best healthcare experience possible.”

Brown, Portman, and Murkowski’s proposal sought to delay the required implementation of EVV systems from January 1, 2019 to January 1, 2020 and urge CMS to hold at least one stakeholder meeting as a part of implementation. The 21st Century Cures Act was passed in 2016. In addition to requiring EVV for personal care services, the 21st Century Cures Act – which Brown supported – included several other provisions, particularly aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic.