Lawmakers Raise Concerns About Medicare Payment Reduction
A proposed regulation that would reduce Medicare reimbursements for long-term care hospitals would decrease their ability to "provide vitally important health care services to critical and vulnerable patients," according to a letter from a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent on Monday to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, CQ HealthBeat reports. The regulation, which CMS proposed on Jan. 27, would reduce Medicare reimbursements for "short-stay outliers," or beneficiaries who stay at LTCHs for relatively short periods of time.
According to CMS, under the regulation, Medicare would reimburse LTCHs for short-stay outliers at the same rate as the program reimburses acute care hospitals. CMS has estimated that the regulation will reduce Medicare reimbursements for LTCHs by 11% for the 12-month period that begins on July 1.
The letter, drafted by Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.), raises concerns that the regulation could have "irreversible negative consequences for the types of patients who need and are served by LTCHs."
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission also criticized the regulation in a letter sent to CMS Administrator Mark McClellan in March (CQ HealthBeat, 4/5).