MedPAC reports to Congress: 8 takeaways

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has released its March 2019 report on Medicare payment policy to Congress, which includes recommendations to reduce payment rates for home health agencies and increase payment rates for hospital inpatient and outpatient services.

Eight takeaways from MedPAC's March report:

1. MedPAC recommends Congress increase payment rates for hospital inpatient and outpatient services by 2 percent in 2020. "This update recommendation is based on indicators of beneficiaries' access to hospital care, hospitals' access to capital, hospital quality, and the relationship between Medicare payments and hospital costs," according to MedPAC.

2. The commission recommends a new hospital value incentive program to replace existing quality incentive programs.

3. MedPAC recommends that Congress reduce payment rates for home health agencies by 5 percent in 2020. "However, this reduction will likely be inadequate to align Medicare payments with providers' actual costs, and further reductions through rebasing will likely be necessary," according to the commission.

4. The commission recommends Congress reduce payment rates for inpatient rehabilitation facilities by 5 percent in 2020. MedPAC said the decision was based on multiple factors, including examining the financial performance of relatively efficient inpatient rehab facilities as well as an estimated aggregate Medicare margin of 11.6 percent for all of these facilities for 2019.

5. MedPAC recommends no update to payment rates for ambulatory surgery centers for 2020, which means the base payment rate would remain unchanged from 2019. 

6. MedPAC also called for HHS to collect cost data from ASCs "without further delay."

7. MedPAC recommends Congress eliminate the update to Medicare base rates for skilled nursing facilities for 2020. "A zero update would begin to align payments with cost while exerting pressure on providers to keep their cost growth low," according to the commission.

8. The commission recommends continuing to revise the skilled nursing facility prospective payment system and make amendments each year as needed.

Access the full report here.

 

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