December 22, 2022

Cassidy, Durbin Bill to Support Leading Rehab Hospitals Heads to President’s Desk to Become Law

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) applauded House passage of their bipartisan legislation to support rehabilitation facilities that lead the nation in medical research and complex treatment. The bipartisan legislation passed the Senate two weeks ago and now heads to the president’s desk for signature into law.

“Glad to see our legislation cross the finish line to support the doctors and researchers providing the best evidence-based treatments make a real difference in a patient’s recovery,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Supporting rehab facilities is a step towards returning patients to wholeness after complex injuries.”

“Dr. Joanne Smith was a passionate, visionary leader whose innovation propelled Shirley Ryan to be the gold standard in its field—providing hope to veterans with injuries, individuals with disabilities, children with birth defects, and many others,” said Senator Durbin. “This legislation recognizes and supports the work of top rehab facilities nationwide focused on cutting-edge research, training new medical professionals, and providing quality care to patients with serious complex health condition.  I’m thrilled our bill overwhelmingly passed the House and now heads to the President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

U.S. Representatives Darin LaHood (R-IL) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced the companion legislation in the House. 

The Dr. Joanne Smith Memorial Rehabilitation Innovation Centers Act recognizes the unique role that a leading class of rehabilitation hospitals play in our health care system, by driving innovative research for the entire field, providing a high volume of medical training to students, and treating the highest need patients across the country. The bill is named after Dr. Joanne Smith, who was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago—the nation’s top-ranked rehab hospital since 1991—until her passing last year.

In the United States, there are more than 1,100 Medicare-certified inpatient rehabilitation facilities.  Among these facilities are a small group of rehabilitation institutions that drive the future of rehabilitation care and medicine, as well as patient recovery.  This unique category of inpatient rehabilitation institutions conduct innovative research to advance the field of rehabilitation care, train the next generation of doctors, and treat the most complex conditions, such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, childhood disease, burns, and wartime injuries. 

Specifically, the Dr. Joanne Smith Memorial Rehabilitation Innovation Centers Act:

  • Defines in statute “Rehabilitation Innovation Center” as a rehabilitation facility that provides care for patients with highly complex conditions, conducts multidisciplinary rehabilitation research, and educates a high number of medical residents.
  • Directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to disseminate best practices and lessons from these facilities and conduct a study on actions to preserve patient access to Rehabilitation Innovation Centers.  As our federal health care system moves away from the fee-for-service payment model toward more value-based care, the study directed by this legislation will shape the future direction of post-acute care.