Medicare payments for skilled-nursing facilities under the prospective payment system have substantially exceeded providers' costs, except in the case of hospital-based skilled-nursing facilities, according to a report by the General Accounting Office. Freestanding facilities earned a median Medicare margin of 19% in 2000, compared with 8% in 1999. Hospital-based skilled-nursing facilities recorded a median -53% margin in 1999 and had larger cost increases than freestanding facilities, the GAO said. A 2000 margin was not available. Medicare spending on skilled-nursing facilities has grown at an average annual rate of 30%, representing one of Medicare's fastest-growing services, the GAO said. The American Health Care Association, which represents long-term-care providers, could not be reached for comment at deadline. -- by Jeff Tieman
Medicare kinder to freestanding nursing facilities
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