MedPAC's 2021 report to Congress: 5 takeaways

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Lawmakers should temporarily continue to expand telehealth coverage after the COVID-19 public health emergency, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which issued its March 2021 report on Medicare payment policy to Congress.

Five key takeaways from the report:

  1. Medicare’s annual spending is projected to double between 2019 and 2029, climbing from $782 billion to $1.5 trillion. 

  2. CMS payments to inpatient prospective payment system and outpatient prospective payment system hospitals totaled $186 billion in 2019. Medicare also paid $73.5 billion for clinician services, $27.8 billion for skilled nursing facility services, $12.9 billion for outpatient dialysis services, $8.7 billion for inpatient rehabilitation facility services and $3.7 billion for long-term care hospital services in 2019.

  3. Medicare premiums and cost sharing were estimated to account for 24 percent of the average Social Security benefit in 2020, up from 14 percent in 2000.

  4. MedPAC recommends Congress increase Medicare base payment rates for acute care hospitals and long-term care hospitals by 2 percent for fiscal year 2022. It also recommended Congress decrease the base payment rate for inpatient rehabilitation facilities by 5 percent for fiscal year 2022 and decrease the base payment rate for home health agencies by 5 percent during the 2022 calendar year.

  5. MedPAC calls on Congress to continue offering expanded telehealth coverage for a one- to two-year period after the public health emergency to collect more data about telehealth's effect on access, quality and the cost of care and use that data to inform any permanent changes.
 

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