Two influential senators with oversight of the Medicare program said today that they are concerned about a provision in the proposed inpatient prospective payment regulation that would reduce payments by 2.4% to offset anticipated cost-savings in coding procedures as hospitals move to Medicare Severity DRGs.
In a letter sent to CMS Acting Administrator Leslie Norwalk, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member, said that while they support the proposed rule, they nevertheless said the agency should move forward without immediately enacting the cut.
We recognize that payment reductions may be necessary to adjust for inappropriate coding changes, the senators wrote. While these changes may ultimately be necessary at some point in the future, these prospective payment reductions are based on speculative conclusions about how these changes will be implemented, and they may have a negative financial impact, particularly on rural hospitals.
Last week, 64 senators and 269 members of the House signed on to a letter saying that they opposed the cuts, which the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals said would result in about a $25 billion hit over five years.
The comment period for the proposed regulation ended June 12. The CMS is expected to issue its final rule on Aug. 1. -- by Matthew DoBias