Archive for Medicare regulations

 

HHS Unveils Spring Regulatory Agenda

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published a comprehensive list of the regulatory actions it plans to take in the coming months.

Included on the list are regulations that have been proposed, that are being finalized, and that are currently under development.  They address Medicare, Medicaid, Food and Drug Administration endeavors, medical devices, the 340B prescription drug discount program, and more.

Among the policy changes contemplated through future regulations are measures to reduce regulatory burdens for hospitals, address the opioid problem, facilitate the use of non-Affordable Care Act-compliant health insurance plans, and more.

Go here to see a complete list of the areas for proposed regulatory action by HHS and for links to brief statements about the contemplated actions.…

Time to Raise the Bar on Preventable Hospital Readmissions?

A new report suggests that hospitals can have the greatest impact on reducing preventable readmissions within seven days of discharge and not through the 30-day mark at which they are currently judged by Medicare.

According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine,

Early readmissions were more likely to be preventable and amenable to hospital-based interventions.  Late readmissions were less likely to be preventable and were more amenable to ambulatory and home-based interventions.

The study, conducted at 10 academic medical centers and involving more than 800 of their patients who had been readmitted to the hospital, concludes that readmissions within seven days may more accurately reflect the quality of care hospitals provide than the 30-day measure applied by Medicare’s hospital readmissions reduction program.

To learn more about the report, its findings, and their implications, go here, to the web site of the Annals of Internal Medicine, to see the study “Preventability of Early Versus Late Hospital Readmissions in a National Cohort of General Medicine Patients.”…

MedPAC Mulls Uniform Outcome Measures to Complement Unified Post-Acute Payments

In support of its proposal that Medicare adopt a unified payment system for post-acute-care services, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission is exploring how to develop uniform outcome measures to support such a new payment system.

Under the MedPAC vision, articulated at its early April public meeting, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, long-term-care hospitals, and inpatient rehabilitation facilities would see their outcomes quantified based on their performance on a series of quality measures.

Meanwhile, there has been little congressional interest in the unified post-acute payment proposal so far.  While some aspects of such a proposal could be implemented administratively, the comprehensive system would require legislation.

Learn more about the Medicare uniform outcomes measures proposal, the unified post-acute care payment proposal, how they interact, and the prospects for both from this article in Provider magazine.…

MedPAC to Congress: Cut Payments to Freestanding Emergency Facilities

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has urged Congress to reduce Medicare payments to freestanding emergency departments 30 percent.

The recommendation, approved by MedPAC earlier this month and to be included in its June report to Congress, notes that such facilities have a lower cost structure because they typically lack some of the equipment, personnel, and standby capabilities of hospital ERs.  In making its recommendation, MedPAC also noted that freestanding ERs typically treat patients whose conditions are not as severe as hospital ERs and tend to be located in areas that already have adequate access to hospital ERs.

While MedPAC’s recommendations are not binding on either Congress or the administration, its views are highly respected and often find their way into future Medicare policy development efforts.

Learn more about the MedPAC recommendation on Medicare payments to freestanding ERs and the reasons behind it in this Kaiser Health News report.

 …

MedPAC Meets

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission met last week in Washington, D.C. to address a number of Medicare reimbursement-related issues.

Among the subjects on MedPAC’s agenda were:

  • using payments to ensure appropriate access to and use of hospital emergency department services
  • uniform outcome measures for post-acute care
  • applying MedPAC’s principles for measuring quality: hospital quality incentives
  • Medicare coverage policy and use of low-value care
  • long-term issues confronting Medicare accountable care organizations
  • managed care plans for dual-eligible beneficiaries

While MedPAC’s policy and payment recommendations are not binding on Congress or the administration, its views are respected and influential and often become the basis for new public policy.

Go here to see the policy briefs and presentations offered to help guide MedPAC commissioners’ discussions about these and other issues.…