CMS Administrator Tom Scully has told House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) that recent recommendations by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission on hospital reimbursement are generally in line with fiscal realities. In March, MedPAC said hospitals should receive an inpatient update of 0.4% below inflation in 2004 despite hospitals' call for a full-inflation update. Scully, in a letter to Thomas, said inpatient hospital margins "have remained very high" and that "hospitals are reimbursed adequately under current rates, but we need to continue to monitor their payments." Scully also said Congress "should consider" MedPAC's recommendation that urban and rural hospitals' base payment rate be permanently equalized. American Hospital Association Senior Vice President Rick Pollack said Scully didn't specifically endorse or reject the below-inflation update proposed by MedPAC. Some political observers said that may leave the CMS room to set a different update. -- by Jeff Tieman
Scully: MedPAC plan fits fiscal realities
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