The American Hospital Association has strong reservations about the Medicare Payment Advisory Commissions recommendation to establish a new hospital wage index system.
The commission voted today to replace the current system with a formula that would use Bureau of Labor Statistics data to calculate average wages for each market area.
We agree with the commission that theres a real problem with the current wage index and there needs to be changes to improve it, said Don May, AHAs vice president for policy.
However, any hospital that has been reclassified,those that have been moved to a higher wage index area to improve their ability to competemay experience decreases in their Medicare payments under this new system.
The AHA has concerns about the use of BLS data and believes that other options should be evaluated and considered in addition to the MedPAC recommendation, May said.
The recommendation will be included in MedPACs annual June report to Congress. If adopted, MedPAC researchers have recommended that a phase-in period may be needed for this new system, due to anticipated decreases providers may experience under the BLS approach. -- by Jennifer Lubell