The CMS and the Indian Health Service have announced a final rule that will establish Medicare-like rates for healthcare services to American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
The rule will stretch available contract health service funds administered by the Indian Health Service, allowing for the purchase of more healthcare services for these populations. Any Medicare hospital, including critical-access hospitals, must participate in the contract health services program funded by the Indian Health Service Medicare, and accept Medicare-like rates as payment in full for items and services furnished to individuals referred by the contract health services program.
Extending Medicares payment authority to the Indian Health contract health services program has been long sought by Indian health providers and tribal leadership, said CMS Acting Administrator Leslie Norwalk in a statement. I am pleased that CMS and IHS are implementing this authority, because it will have direct and immediate impact, extending the ability of Indian health programs to provide more care for the population they serve.
The Indian Health Service operates a health service delivery system for approximately 1.9 million American Indians and Alaskan Natives who belong to 561 federally recognized tribes in 35 states. The rule goes into effect July 4. -- by Jennifer Lubell