Also, long-term-care facilities would face a 4% cut in 2014 as the start of a rebasing initiative. Earlier Thursday, the panel recommended a 1% increase for Medicare payments in hospitals' inpatient and outpatient services and cutting pay for evaluation and management in hospitals' outpatient facilities to the amount provided to physicians' offices for such services. Additionally, the panel unanimously recommended: a 0.5% update for ambulatory surgical centers; a 1% update for outpatient dialysis services; and a 0.5% update for hospice services.
Also, the panel recommended Congress authorize the secretary of HHS to modify—including possibly eliminating—Part D co-pays for low-income subsidy beneficiaries in order to encourage their use of generic medications when appropriate.
Such a move was intended to decrease Medicare spending without restricting access to needed care, according to commissioners.
The panel also reviewed a staff report on the status of Medicare Advantage plans that found 12.1 million, or 25%, of Medicare's beneficiaries opted for such private plans over the standard Medicare program in 2011. That was a 6% increase from the 11.4 million enrolled in 2010.
Medicare Advantage payment bids have fallen to 98% of the cost of fee-for-service Medicare but the actual payments were 107% of those paid by the main Medicare program due to the costlier local benchmark plans on which they are based.