The CMS overstepped its statutory authority when it proposed lower outpatient payments in 2007 for hospitals that fail to report data on inpatient quality, the American Hospital Association said in written comments to the agency. Congress "did not explicitly authorize" the CMS to link outpatient payments to quality measures for hospitalized patients, the AHA said, and doing so would fail to improve outpatient safety and quality. Regulations proposed in August would reduce by 2 percentage points Medicare's 2007 outpatient payment update for hospitals that don't disclose certain inpatient quality data. Federal officials identified up to 171 hospitals that could be affected by the proposed change, said Nancy Foster, the AHA's vice president of quality and patient safety policy. The CMS is expected to issue final regulations around Nov. 1. The deadline for submitting comments on the proposal was today.
AHA blasts outpatient payment plan
In a separate comment letter, the AHA objected to the CMS' proposed revision of billing codes for hospital clinic and emergency room visits. Adopting the CMS' proposal would increase confusion and paperwork "without the benefit of a standardized methodology or better claims data," the AHA said. Read the comment letters. -- by Melanie Evans
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