The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission in draft recommendations is proposing reductions for home health in 2011, while suggesting modest updates for physicians and ambulatory surgery centers.
MedPAC draft urges cuts for home health
MedPAC in addressing home healthcare drafted an update that would essentially freeze payments in 2011, but would also require the CMS to modify home health's base payments to better reflect the cost of providing care.
According to the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, this would result in a reduction of their members' Medicare reimbursement.
The data MedPAC used to arrive at its draft recommendation “artificially inflates the profit margins of the entire industry,” said its president, Val Halamandaris, in a written statement. A key concern is that MedPAC does not include data from hospital-based agencies in its calculation of average financial margins, according to the NAHC.
MedPAC's recommendations “would threaten the existence of vital home health agencies that give seniors the independence they need to stay at home instead of a hospital or nursing home,” Halamandaris stated.
For hospice care, MedPAC suggested the industry's regular inflationary update—usually estimated at 2.5% to 3.5%—should be adjusted to reflect productivity growth, or increased efficiency in care. This would result in a proposed update of 1.2%, according to MedPAC staff. For other sectors, MedPAC's draft recommendations included a 1% update for physicians, a 0.6% update for ambulatory surgery centers, and a freeze in payments for skilled-nursing facilities.
The commission plans to vote on these recommendations at its January meeting.
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