September 24, 2021

Cassidy, Durbin Introduce Legislation to Support Leading Rehab Facilities

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced bipartisan legislation to support rehabilitation facilities that lead the nation in medical research and complex treatment. The Dr. Joanne Smith Memorial Rehabilitation Innovation Centers Act recognizes the unique role that a leading class of rehabilitation facilities play in our health care system, by driving innovative research for the entire field, providing medical training to students, and serving the highest need patients across the country. 

“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. Like Dr. Smith, the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is a national treasure in the world of rehabilitation medicine. This legislation recognizes and supports the work of top facilities nationwide focused on cutting-edge research, training new medical professionals, and providing quality care to patients with serious complex health conditions,” said Senator Durbin.

The bill is named after Dr. Joanne Smith, who was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab—the nation’s top-ranked rehab hospital since 1991—until her passing this month.

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. 

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined Durbin and Cassidy in cosponsoring today’s legislation. 

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

  • Defines “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 the adequacy of current payment rates for 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 analysis of reimbursement for post-acute care providers and Rehabilitation Innovation Centers.