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Recommendations On 2009 Medicare Payments Approved

Armen Hareyan's picture

Medicare Payments

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission on Thursday approved recommendations toCongress on fiscal year 2009 Medicare reimbursements to skilled nursingfacilities and home health care agencies, CQHealthBeatreports.

MedPAC voted to approve a recommendation to freeze FY 2009 Medicarereimbursements to skilled nursing facilities at current rates, "citingprojected aggregate Medicare margins of 11.4%," according to CQHealthBeat. In addition, MedPAC voted to recommend the establishment ofa pay-for-performance program for skilled nursing facilities despite oppositionfrom Commissioner William Scanlon, who said that such a program requiresadditional tests before implementation. MedPAC also approved a package ofrecommendations to improve quality measurements for skilled nursing facilities.

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MedPAC also voted to approve a recommendation to freeze FY 2009 Medicarereimbursements to home health care agencies at current rates. According toMedPAC, the recommendation would have a limited effect on Medicarebeneficiaries and providers but would reduce spending by $250 million to $750million in 2009 and by $1.5 billion to $5 billion after five years.

In addition, MedPAC voted to approve a recommendation to eliminate a previouslyrecommended 1% increase in FY 2009 Medicare reimbursements for inpatientrehabilitation facilities. MedPAC also voted to approve a recommendation toincrease FY 2009 Medicare reimbursements for long-term care hospitals by anestimated 1.6%. Previously, MedPAC recommended a freeze on FY 2009 Medicarereimbursements for LTCHs (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 1/10).

During the MedPAC meeting, physicians on the commission "voicedfrustration and even anger about the meager or nonexistent Medicare paymentincreases given to doctors in recent years," CQ HealthBeatreports. MedPAC Chair Glenn Hackbarth indicated that the recommendations"should not be interpreted as MedPAC saying that everyone is OK in termsof physician payment," according to CQ HealthBeat. Hackbarthsaid that MedPAC seeks to revise the formula used to determine Medicarereimbursements to physicians and plans to make additional recommendations inthe spring (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 1/10).

Reprintedwith permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign upfor email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health PolicyReport is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.