Reps. Jim McCrery of Louisiana, a Republican, and Benjamin Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, have introduced legislation that would move reimbursement for psychiatric hospitals and units to a prospective payment system within three years, while phasing in payment cuts required under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 over the same period.

Psychiatric inpatient providers are getting the short end of the stick under Medicare, say supporters of the legislation, the Medicare Psychiatric Hospital Prospective Payment System Act of 1998. According to a recent report from the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee, psychiatric hospitals and units now are actually experiencing cuts in reimbursement, without any phase-in period.

Leaders on both sides of the aisle are reviewing the bill to determine whether to hold hearings this summer.