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CMS seeks 1.4% payment hike for SNFs

By Jessica Zigmond
Posted: May 1, 2013 - 7:00 pm ET

The CMS has proposed a 1.4% hike in Medicare payments to skilled-nursing facilities for fiscal 2014, which the agency estimates would increase payments to these providers by about $500 million from 2013 payment levels.

Released Wednesday, the regulation proposes to rebase and revise the skilled-nursing facility marketbasket index for next year. Currently, the marketbasket reflects data from fiscal 2004, and the CMS has suggested using data from fiscal 2010 instead.

Representing the nation's skilled nursing facilities, the American Health Care Association released a statement lauding the increase. “We appreciate the marketbasket update,” Mark Parkinson, AHCA president and CEO said in the statement. “We are studying the forecast error, marketbasket revision, and proposed therapy changes. After review we will comment on their impact.”

Meanwhile, the CMS proposed changing elements of the marketbasket index by adding five new cost categories, bringing the new total to 29 cost categories. The new classifications are medical instruments and supplies, apparel, machinery and equipment, administrative and facilities support services, and financial services.

And the CMS is proposing to add an item to the so-called minimum data set, or MDS, to record the number of calendar days of therapy provided by all of the rehabilitation disciplines to a beneficiary throughout the course of a seven-day look-back period. Rehabilitation disciplines include physical, occupational and speech therapy.

“Currently, the number of days for each therapy discipline reported on the MDS is summed without regard to the number of separate and unique days per week on which the patient receives therapy services across all rehabilitation disciplines,” the agency noted in a fact sheet about the rule, adding that this results in some patients receiving higher payments when they don't meet qualifying conditions. “The proposed addition to the MDS ensures SNFs are paid accurately for their patients.”

The CMS will accept public comments on the rule until July 1.

Follow Jessica Zigmond on Twitter: @MHjzigmond

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