Over the past seven years, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, which face continued federal funding cuts, saw a 26% decrease in utilization by Medicare beneficiaries, according to a report.
Report notes decline in IRF use by Medicare beneficiaries, blames policy changes
“Rehabilitation hospitals deliver high-quality care and provide unique clinical value for patients who require hospital-level care and intensive rehabilitation after an illness, injury or surgery,” said Richard Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. “Any further payment reductions would inappropriately reduce patients' ability to access these important services.”
The AHA, the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association and the Federation of American Hospitals commissioned the report, which blamed declining utilization on policy changes, specifically a final rule issued in May 2004 by the CMS pertaining to reimbursement eligibility for IRFs. The study, prepared by the Moran Co., shows that the number of Medicare beneficiaries using IRFs had decreased by 26%, from 381,844 to 281,059 since 2004. The report is critical of the "60% rule," which mandates that 60% of IRF cases need to have one of 13 conditions including stroke, brain injury or joint replacement.
Hospitals officials worry funding could be slashed again, as a recommendation to President Barack Obama requested the percentage for that rule be adjusted to 75%, a move estimated to save $3 billion over a decade.
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