Tuesday, March 2, 2010

MedPAC March 2010 Report Released

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) released its 2010 March report yesterday. Items affecting hospice services include these recommendations from the fact sheet:

  • The Congress should update the payment rates for hospice for 2011 by the projected rate of increase in the hospital market basket index less the Commission’s adjustment for productivity growth (a net update of approximately 1.1%). The Commission also reiterated its hospice recommendation from March 2009:
  • The Congress should direct the Secretary to change the Medicare payment system for hospice to: have relatively higher payments per day at the beginning of the episode and relatively lower payments per day as the length of the episode increases; include a relatively higher payment for the costs associated with patient death at the end of the episode; and implement the payment system changes in 2013, with a brief transitional period. These payment system changes should be implemented in a budget neutral manner in the first year.
  • The Congress should direct the Secretary to: require that a hospice physician or advanced practice nurse visit the patient to determine continued eligibility prior to the 180th-day recertification and each subsequent recertification and attest that such visits took place, require that certifications and recertifications include a brief narrative describing the clinical basis for the patient’s prognosis, and require that all stays in excess of 180 days be medically reviewed for hospices for which stays exceeding 180 days make up 40 percent or more of their total cases.
  • The Secretary should direct the Office of Inspector General to investigate: the prevalence of financial relationships between hospices and long-term care facilities such as nursing facilities and assisted living facilities that may represent a conflict of interest and influence admissions to hospice, differences in patterns of nursing home referrals to hospice, the appropriateness of enrollment practices for hospices with unusual utilization patterns (e.g., high frequency of very long stays, very short stays, or enrollment of patients discharged from other hospices), and the appropriateness of hospice marketing materials and other admissions practices and potential correlations between length of stay and deficiencies in marketing or admissions practices.
  • The Secretary should collect additional data on hospice care and improve the quality of all data collected to facilitate the management of the hospice benefit. Additional data could be collected from claims as a condition of payment and from hospice cost reports.