A memo from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission could fuel further support for a House proposal to update hospital payments at a rate below inflation for the next two years. The memo, requested by unknown parties in Congress and attributed to "MedPAC staff," said Medicare's payments per discharge grew 27.2% over the past decade, while hospitals' costs per discharge increased 14.3%. Lobbyists said the memo could influence the House-Senate conference committee negotiating a final Medicare reform package. Under the House Medicare reform bill, hospitals would receive payment updates 0.4 percentage points below inflation in 2004 and 2005. An American Hospital Association official said the memo paints an incomplete picture of hospital finances by considering inpatient PPS payments only. -- by Jeff Tieman
MedPAC memo may feed debate over updates
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