Washington, DC – Passing the House with a bipartisan majority, the so called “Pennies from Heaven” bill stipulates that starting next fiscal year, Medicaid will begin reimbursing medical practitioners using sacks of pennies instead of the former method of sending a check, cash, or direct depositing it into an account. Next week, the Senate will take up the bill and early indications are that the bill will pass, especially after it was attached to “must pass” legislation authorizing funding for Congress’ upcoming beach retreat.
“At a recent hearing about health care reform, I heard a lot about Medicaid reimbursing ‘pennies on the dollar’ for care,” commented bill co-sponsor congressman Hugo Burns (R-TX), “And I kept saying it over and over in my head…’pennies on the dollar…..pennies on the dollar.’ And then it hit me! How about we reimburse medical practitioners using pennies instead of dollars”?
“One huge benefit of this bipartisan bill would be to allow reimbursements to seem like they are going up by a factor of 100,” chimed in bill co-sponsor Brenda Bagdopholous (D-MI), “While $10 of reimbursement for an hour-long new patient encounter, complete physical exam, checking for drug interactions in a 20+ medication list, smoking cessation counseling, and bereavement counseling seems like a small amount, suddenly it becomes 1000 pennies if you think of it in a different light. I mean, who wouldn’t want a sack of change with 1000 coins in it”?
Copper and Zinc lobbyist Rufus Mugolulu thinks this could be a game changer for the industry. “The penny has been underappreciated for some time. You know, pennies represent value, and everyone agrees that medicine could use more value. I think it is a win-win for everyone.”
Hospitals around the country are bracing for the new rules by investing in two story change collecting towers and gymnasium-style storerooms for all of the extra coinage. Some groups are planning on partnering with Coinstar to install machines in their offices.