House Approves Bill To Block Medicare Inpatient Hospital Reimbursement Reduction

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The House on Thursday voted 412-12 to approve an amendment to a fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (HR 3043) to block a provision in a rule proposed by CMS that would reduce Medicare inpatient hospital reimbursements by 2.4%, CQ HealthBeat reports (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 7/20).

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The"behavioral offset" provision of the rule, which would revise theMedicare inpatient hospital reimbursement system in FY 2008, addressesthe expectation that hospitals will "upcode," or bill the program forservices reimbursed at higher rates, in response to changes that wouldlink payments with the severity of the illnesses of patients (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 6/19).

Rep.Jerry Weller (R-Ill.) said that the provision would "punish thehospitals before they've done anything wrong," adding that theamendment would ensure "any adjustments made for coding changes will bebased on the actual experiences of the hospitals, not mere conjecture."However, "it's uncertain how much the House vote means," as PresidentBush has threatened to veto the broader bill because of the level ofspending included in the legislation, CQ HealthBeat reports.

Federation of American HospitalsPresident Chip Kahn said that the "underlying bill obviously hasissues" but added that he hopes the House vote on the amendment willprompt CMS to drop the provision from the final rule. The vote "showsoverwhelming concern about the effect of this rule," Kahn said, adding,"I'm hopeful they will get the message" at CMS (CQ HealthBeat, 7/20).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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